The eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou is known as China’s “Love Capital”, where many fascinating oriental stories have occurred, such as the story of “Liang Zhu”, which has been regarded as “the Oriental Romeo and Juliet”. Meanwhile, Hangzhou has the most developed internet and digital economy industries in China. Encouraged by the rich cultural cultivations and story elements, coupled with the most avant-garde digital technologies, a large number of young artists and technology entrepreneurs have made Hangzhou into a “capital of cartoon & animation” with its unique style. As a result of the development of cartoon and animation, this famous oriental city has demonstrated its urban vitality with more diversity.
Staring from 2005, Hangzhou holds an annual city-wide party in the name of “cartoon & animation” every May. Over the past 14 years, a total of 16.2 million people around the world have participated in the event. As scheduled, from April 30 through May 5 this year, the 15th China International Cartoon & Animation Festival will be held in Hangzhou. Disney, Sony Entertainment from the US, Webtoon, South Korea’s largest comics platform, and cartoon and animation companies, organizations and guests from 86 countries and regions around the world are coming to Hangzhou to participate in the event, which is, for now, the only national professional cartoon and animation exhibition in China, as well as the largest, most popular and influential cartoon and animation festival in the world.
The encounter between Hangzhou and cartoon & animation is no accident.
“The White Snake Enchantress”, the first long colorful animation movie in the history of Japanese Cinema, was released in 1958. It came in pairs that 60 years later a team of Chinese filmmakers launched the original animation movie “White Snake”, both of which were based on the legend known to everyone in China. With its setting in Hangzhou, most of the scenes and landmarks in the story have been existing in local people’s lives for thousands of years.
As an encounter across more than half a century, both of the movies have harvested unanimous praise in different times through aesthetic expressions of oriental elements and sophisticated productions. This ancient oriental love story has been given a new life by the animations of different times, telling the world about the beauty and charm of the Chinese version of “the Little Mermaid” that took place in Hangzhou.
In recent years, the cartoon and animation industry is considered as one of the most promising emerging industries in China.
In 2005, Hangzhou held the first China International Cartoon & Animation Festival and has kept Hangzhou as the permanent venue for the only national professional cartoon and animation exhibition of China ever since, turning on the “Hangzhou model” for China’s cartoon and animation industry. Over more than 10 years, with a series of supporting policies for the cartoon and animation industry, Hangzhou have attracted many excellent domestic and foreign cartoon and animation companies and creators to operate in the city. Thereby, Chinese cartoonists and animators have taken on the mission to create Chinese cartoon and animation stories and brands.
Liu Jian, a Chinese cartoonist, came to fame at the 2018 Academy Awards, where he was selected to be one of the Oscar judges as a Chinese animation director.
“In my point of view, good movies must be creative and must express a good worldview with good stories.” Last December, Liu Jian’s team with teachers and students created the animation work “Liangzhu”, telling about the origin and evolution of Liangzhu culture with elements from 5,000 years of Liangzhu civilization, such as dams, walls, jade and Taotie designs.
Obviously, the creators, bred in this ancient cultural city, have been committed to demonstrating deep cultural genes with cartoons and animations and depicting oriental aesthetics. With the rise of China’s cartoon and animation market, many filmmakers from overseas are seeking to cooperate with China, exploring Chinese culture, seizing the opportunities to tell Chinese stories.
Mark Handler, the managing director of Disney, China, shared the creation experience of Disney China’s new movie “Stitch & Ai” (An Ling and Stitch) at 2017 China International Cartoon & Animation Festival. Instead of focusing on the beautiful scenery of Huangshan, the crew went deep into the countryside to seek for Chinese stories. The movie included many Chinese cultural symbols, such as Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun in the southern Anhui Province.
Animation is the language in which cultures go to the world. Many years ago, Xia Yan, a forerunner in the Chinese movie industry said, “The first movies of PRC that went global in the real sense were cartoons.” Having been building China’s “capital of cartoon & animation” for 15 years, Hangzhou is sending the voice of China to the world and telling fascinating oriental stories in the form of cartoon and animation.
Source: The Office of China International Cartoon & Animation Festival