Liu Jian (right) deals with weighty topics in realistic ways in his latest animation film, Have A Nice Day, which will be screened in Chinese cinemas ahead of the Chinese New Year in February. [Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily]
Film director Liu Jian is by no means talkative. Liu, who was invited to the opening ceremony of the fifth Festival of German Cinema in China in Beijing on Friday as chief guest, spoke just five sentences in his opening speech.
But his work does speak out more.
Have A Nice Day, his latest 77-minute-long animated film, was nominated for the Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in February.
The film is 48-year-old Liu’s second theatrical release.
However, it is the first Chinese animated film to be nominated in the Berlin festival, and even the first Asian animated film to be nominated for a Golden Bear since Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s iconic Spirited Away in 2002.
Though the film lost out, it has aroused a lot of expectation in China.
Earlier this month, Have A Nice Day premiered in China via an originally unscheduled screening at the first Pingyao International Film Festival in Shanxi province.
Chinese film director Jia Zhangke, who launched Pingyao festival, called the film a milestone in Chinese animation on the occasion.
Liu was not present in Pingyao.
But when Liu finally appeared in Beijing, he said that the film will be publicly screened in Chinese cinemas before the Chinese New Year in February.
Speaking about the movie, he says: “Animation can have many meanings or formats. And after seeing the film, people may accept that animation can tackle serious issues.”
Unlike most Chinese animated films today, which are based on fairy tales, myths or ancient legends, Have A Nice Day has darker shades to it.
It shows what happens after Xiao Zhang, a driver working for a gang, takes his boss’ mon-ey to fix his girlfriend’s failed cosmetic surgery.
Speaking of how such films tackle serious issues, he cites examples of French-Iranian film Persepolis (2007) and Israeli production Waltz with Bashir (2008), both of which deal with weighty topics in realistic ways, and were nominated for the Academy Awards.
According to Yang Cheng, producer of Have A Nice Day, the copyright of the film has been sold in more than 30 countries and regions, and it will soon be distributed in cinemas all around the world.
The film is set in Nanjing, capital of East China’s Jiangsu province, probably as a way for Liu to acknowledge his hometown.