The Chinese animated film Art College 1994 was selected for the Competition section at the 73rd Berlinale, announced on February 1st, 2023.
This was a pleasant surprise as it was the final film chosen for the international film festival, setting a new record for the Chinese animated film industry. Directed by Liu Jian from the China Academy of Art’s School of Animation and Games and produced over five years by a team of teachers and students, the film represents a major creative and pedagogical accomplishment of the Academy. In recent years, China Academy of Art’s School of Animation and Games has produced award-winning graduation films such as Hippocampus and A Dog Under Bridge, which have won recognition at local and international film festivals. Being shortlisted in the highly prestigious Berlinale Competition section, which is regarded as one of the top three film festivals in the world, Art College 1994 further demonstrates the creative and educational prowess of China Academy of Art’s School of Animation and Games.
The early 1990s saw the emergence of modern art in China, as young artists were influenced by new artistic ideologies. Despite appearing inexperienced and childlike, their quest for answers was rooted in authenticity and sincerity that inspires us. Art College 1994 is a tribute to all artists and its themes about art education remain relevant today.
When asked about the film, Prof. Liu stated, “In 2016, I returned to my alma mater after 20 years and saw a wall of modern buildings dividing my memories. Then, I heard someone call my name and saw my former teacher and young students laughing. That was when the idea for the film hit me. I joined China Academy of Art as a teacher and developed the concept for Art College 1994. This film is not a nostalgic look back, but rather a celebration of the beauty of life and art in every young person and in every old soul. I want it to be a loud, sincere song that speaks to every young spirit and applauds their bravery and vitality.”
The 73rd Berlinale will begin on February 16, 2023 and will feature the premiere of Art College 1994. The film boasts an impressive voice-acting cast, including directors Jia Zhangke, Zheng Dasheng, and Xu Lei, film producer Wang Hongwei, musicians Peng Lei and Ren Ke, academic Xu Zhiyuan, and the founder of Modern Sky and Strawberry Music Festival, Shen Lihui. Stay tuned for further announcements on celebrated actors joining the cast.