As Yang Jian confronts the actions of his past, he must face a host of dangerous vigilantes seeking the same treasure with the power to alter the balance of their worlds. This latest entry in the New Gods universe from Light Chaser Animation (White Snake, New Gods: Nezha Reborn) features awe-inspiring action sequences set against breathtaking and wildly imaginative environments. Combining ancient lore with dazzling animation, New Gods: Yang Jian is a timeless adventure of epic proportions featuring one of China’s legendary mythic figures. A GKIDS release.
I Am What I Am
When we first meet Juan he (like us) is awestruck by the powerful, balletic artistry of a traditional Chinese Lion Dance troupe. It’s a dance that requires incredible concentration, strength and grace all while wearing elaborate and heavy costumes and the team who seems poised for victory is interrupted by a mysterious interloper. A chase ensues and Juan suddenly finds himself abetting their escape. Turns out the skilled new dancer is a girl also named Juan and before she disappears again she gifts him with the ornate Lion headpiece she was wearing. Juan finds purpose and determination through the encounter and rounds up his rag-tag group of friends (Cat and Dog) to form the world’s most unlikely lion dance troupe. Even more unlikely is the mentor they seek out, a once promising star in the dance world who is now living a very different life as a fishmonger. Together the group goes on the impossible mission of getting ready for the biggest competition in the country, but just when their dream seems within reach harsh reality complicates matters.
By the end of the film you will be on the edge of your seat rooting for Juan and his longshot team, ready to leap to your feet, likely not with the grace of the dancers, but with the enthusiasm for a character you’ve been cheering on the entire time. I Am What I Am adds original flair to the well-loved underdog genre and envelopes that world in impressive animation with a keen eye on light and movement. (ANIMATION IS FILM)
With the release of Ne Zha, the Chinese animation industry has come into its own. The $20 million budget film has grossed an astounding $700 million at the Chinese box office, demolishing the $235 million prior record head by Disney’s Zootopia. Animation Is Film is thrilled to present a special screening of Ne Zha followed by a discussion with the Yi Qiao, Nezha’s co-writer and the producer, CEO, and visionary force behind Coloroom, the startup animation company that has produced megahits Nezha and Monkey King: Hero is Back, art house titles Big Fish and Begonia, Da Hufa and Have a Nice Day, and is also distributor for anime hits Your Name and Spirited Away.
One of the most original and daring films this year, and certainly the only one to feature a shoe-centric critique of a patriarchal society.
In a dystopian world, male shoes, all black polish and metal grommets, are in charge and the females, red high-heels with spindly vines, are caged and kept strictly for breeding purposes. Under disguise a female breaks loose and attempts to move beyond her confines, but her attempt alters not only her fate but the very fabric of the society.
Told almost exclusively in tactile visuals and everyday objects, SHe is a striking example of the expressive power of stop-motion. The film uses almost 60,000 photographs and took over five years to create. Purposeful uses of color and eerie sound design compliments a story that is infused with suspense, cultural commentary, dark eroticism and humor. It shouldn’t be surprising that for a film with so many shoes, it has a soul.
No. 7 Cherry Lane
Hong Kong master Yonfan’s first feature since 2009’s Prince of Tears is also his first foray into the world of animated filmmaking. But regardless of his choice of medium, the film – which won the Best Screenplay prize at Venice – is essentially and unmistakably his. And – like when any living legend creates something new – a cause for celebration.
During the rise of the materialistic comfort of life in the 1960s, there emerges an undercurrent of danger in Hong Kong. No.7 Cherry Lane tells the tale of Ziming, a handsome Hong Kong University undergraduate, entangled between his amorous feelings for Mrs Yu, self-exiled mother from Taiwan, and her beautiful daughter Meiling. He connects with them initially through shared culture and intellectual pursuits but soon forbidden passions are revealed. The era coincides with Hong Kong’s turbulent times of 1967.
The late Tang dynasty. There is great chaos under heaven. One day, a young man from Snake-Catcher Village, Xuan, discovers a mysterious girl by a waterfall. Blanca has lost her memory. Xuan and Blanca search for clues to her identity. They face great danger together, and fall in love. They find out who she really is, but now, disaster looms…
The latest feature from Lightchaser Studio carries on their reputation for adapting rich Chinese fables and legends through exceptional animation. Combing passionate romance with epic action, White Snake is an endlessly entertaining adventure.
Amp Wong & Ji Zhao, China 2019, 99 min.
In Mandarin with English subtitles