Feast for the eyes
By Lau Kit-wai
A festival that showcases 58 top animated short films since 1990 kicks off next week.
Our Years of Animation: Hong Kong Animation Shorts from 1990 to 2006 aims to recognise the achievements of 32 local animators.
The event, which runs from June 19 to 28 at Broadway Cinematheque, is organised by InD Blue, a non-profit organisation that promotes independent films among young people.
Animations featured range from classics such as the eight-minute The Magic Brush (2002), which took the animator Dick Wong and his two late co-directors 20 years to complete, to John Chan's Mum Is Born (2005), which won the top animation prize at the 11th Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards (IFVA).
A range of themes and styles are showcased: Cheng Kwong-chuen's My Fantasia (2002) is a variation of Disney's Fantasia, Foul Ball (1996) by Toe Yuen (the director of the popular McDull films) is a protest against globalisation and She Writes A Poem (2002) by John Ho is a powerful love story.
'I hope these shorts of the past 17 years will let the new generation know more about these animators,' said InD Blue director Jonathan Hung, who selected the programme. 'Their techniques are unique.'
Buck Mok Yiu-wa, 39, is one such animator. He created a unique Chinese painting style for Farm Boy Azhi (2002) and Mei, The Stream From Heaven (2005), the first two films of his Chinese Artists Series. Mok, who used to work at a TV station, set up an animation production house in 2001.
'It's difficult, but being an animator is more that just doing a job. You must have ideals that you want to pursue and be passionate about your work,' said Mok.
'I set up my own company because I want to create and produce my own animations.'
Peter Ng Suen-ho, who is best known for his illustration of Fu Wing and Siu Fu Mui, has also developed animations in different styles over the past decade.
His earlier shorts such as Mr Salmon (1996) and Mascot?! (1998) are imaginative pieces that deal with nature and environmental issues, while his Dandelion (2000) is a heart-warming tale about a mother-and-daughter relationship.
'I hope Hong Kong audiences develop an eclectic taste and show more support for local animations. Unfortunately, when most Hong Kong people think of animations, only the works of Pixar or Hayao Miyazaki come to mind,' said the 30-year-old Ng.
While the market for local animations is still small, Hung encourages young people to produce their own animations. Thanks to computer technology, you don't need a large budget to experience the fun and magic of being an animator, he said.
Some shorts showcased in the festival are produced by students, such as F=ma (1998), a film that won the Distinguished Award in the youth category at the fourth IFVA. It was produced by four Form Six girls during their summer break.
An animation workshop will be conducted by Neco Lo Che-ying, as well as other experienced animators, after the screenings.