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December 2, 2010

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Animator shows taste for history and philosophy

WHILE computer graphics are now prevailing in the animation industry, Sun Xun is a stickler for tradition, insisting on hand-drawn sketches to make his animated films.

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."

Born in Fuxin, Liaoning Province, in 1980, Sun 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," Sun says.

Although it sounds easy - bouncing from one passion to another - the reality is totally different.

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 had a clear vision to control his life and career at a much younger age than his peers.

Upon graduation in 2005, Sun says he opened his animation studio. Only five years later, he and his team now don't have any financial pressure.

Sun has produced 10 animated films so far and his work has been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and Venezia Cinema 2010.

A mosquito, magician and dictionary often appear in his films and they have become his signature.

"Yes, they nearly appear in all my works and have become my special symbols," Sun says. "In my eyes, a magician represents the only legal liar in life while a dictionary means power. But a mosquito is a small insect that can spread a virus, and always gives a surprise without notice."

His latest movie "21g" discusses self-existence.

"We always question life, attach value or meaning to life based on different reference systems," he says. "But the world is round, our life is like pi, and our continuous approaches turn these searches for meaning into an endless circle."

Sun Xun

Born in Fuxin, Liaoning Province, in 1980

A graduate of the China Academy of Arts in 2005

Now lives and works in Beijing


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