The story appears on

Page A8

February 12, 2012

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Animator more interested in art than accolades

Filmmaker Sun Xun doesn't worry about rave reviews and is unimpressed by awards.

Sun has produced 15 animation films including his latest, "Some Actions Which Haven't Been Defined Yet in the Revolution."

The 12-minute film has been nominated in the Berlin Shorts category at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.

"I don't consider this a special honor," Sun says. "Actually participating in various film festivals, for me, is akin to having meals at the right time."

The film stands out as Sun used wood block printing to make it, a process that is more laborious than hand-drawn sketches.

The short is about an unidentified person who lives in an alien environment full of surreal politics and ideological colors. Everything looks fantastic and it projects a profound reality.

Tradition sticker

While computer graphics now prevail in the animation industry, Sun, who was born in 1980 in Fuxin, Liaoning Province, is a stickler for tradition, usually insisting on hand-drawn sketches to make his films.

He says using wood printing is complicated but that the "art language is more hysteric and violent."

Wood printing was popular in China in the decades following the founding of the People's Republic of China but gradually fell out of favor.

His work explores what he calls the "construction of history."

"What is history?" he asks. "When all the concrete things in history have been removed for a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a year or even a century, there is nothing more real or exciting than questioning history itself instead of getting an answer from history."

Sun says many people have told him over the years that he was barking up the wrong tree by making artistic animated films.

"Even my dean asked me to give up what I was doing, as artistic animation, different from commercial animation films, he said would not be chosen by film festivals nor earn money. He thought I was going in the wrong direction."

Perhaps to prove himself, Sun started participating in sundry film festivals since 2006. "In fact, renowned international film festivals just want good movies, whether it is commercial or artistic," Sun says.

He says his career as a maker of animated films is filled with serendipity.

"At first, I liked painting, then I applied for the art academy. Later I became interested in movies, and now I am fascinated with animation," he says.

Sun's films have been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival ("Lie of Magician," 2005), San Francisco International Film Festival ("People's Republic of Zoo," 2009) and the Venice Film Festival in 2010. Sun's "21G" was entered in the Venice Film Festival 2010, the first Chinese animation film nominated by this festival.

Other Chinese animation films having been nominated at the Berlin festival include "Three Monks" (1980), "Snipe and Clam Grapple" (1983) "Feelings of Mountains and Waters" (1988) and "Mantis Stalks Cicada" (1988).

Sun says he was admitted to the middle school affiliated to the China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province, where students were exempted from a mathematics test. He then applied for the print department of the art academy after he heard that students there were free to create whatever they wanted.

From the very start, Sun says he chose animation because as a freshman he had no income and animation was the only way to realize his dream of being an artist.

Whether it has been fate, hard work, luck or a combination of all these, Sun seems as though he has had a clear vision of his life and career at a much younger age than his peers.

The Berlin International Film Festival will announce the winner in the shorts category on February 16.

Sun says he hasn't decided if he will go to Berlin for the awards ceremony.

"Believe it or not, winning an award in Berlin is not a big thing for me," he says. "Art is such a trivial thing in life, and has nothing to prove, let alone an artist. Compared with politics or science, artists are not the decisive power in society.

"I just try to live a better life."

With that in mind he adds he will continue to participate in international film festivals. "For me, it is a collection," he says, "a collection of film festivals."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend