Chinese Animation: In Search of a Style
Comprehensive, clear, critical. Those adjectives all apply in equal measure to this fine video essay by Accented Cinema. It is the brainchild of Yang, a Chinese-Canadian filmmaker who grew up in the Chinese province of Guangdong and is now based in Canada’s Montreal. His personal history and journey inform the choice of topics and the views and opinions he expresses on his YouTube channel. This blending of the personal with the historical is an essayistic trait that adds both affect and embodied insights to the Accented Cinema productions.
Yang creates “video essays about foreign films” and often focuses on Chinese productions. This video is a good example of his modus operandi: it is a thorough and broad overview of the history of Chinese animation. Yang interprets that history as a search for a national identity and style. He uses his own (and his generation’s) reactions to several attempts at a uniquely Chinese animation style as a way to navigate and evaluate the field. The video illustrates the influence of Chinese political history on the development of the animation industry, and Yang does not shy away from pointed criticism while also expressing some pride in his cultural heritage. (That same mix can be found in another of his video essays, on patriotism in Chinese cinema). Accented Cinema’s productions are sleekly produced, and although they may not be formally innovative, their insider’s viewpoint is a very welcome addition to the video essay world.