The 76th edition of the Venice Film Festival has left countless surprises in its wake. The film ‘No. 7 Cherry Lane’, animated by Chinese director Yonfan, who drew frame by frame for seven years, won the prize for Best Screenplay.
Yonfan says his animated film is a love letter to Hong Kong, in which he tells of a romance set in the late 1960s in a city marked by riots against British colonial rule. It tells the story of a university student who struggles between his love for a woman exiled from the white terror of Taiwan and that of her daughter, the beautiful Meiling.
It is the first film made by the director in 10 years and it is the first time that he bets on animation as the language for his production. The director and his team first made the representations of the film in 3D so that they could then draw everything manually and animate it. The strange movements of the scenes, the mixture of visual styles, the textures, the influences of the ink drawn anime and even its references to engravings are so astonishingly exotic that they make the feature film an indispensable visual reference for lovers of animation.
For 71-year-old Yonfan to have immersed himself in this technology so late in his career may be a surprising risk, but ‘No. 7 Cherry Lane’ is absolutely a piece that fits his flowery filmography, where his love for high kitsch melodrama, the somewhat forced romanticism and the insurmountable beauty of a movie star, which in this case is a drawing, is evident. As in his latest feature film “Prince of Tears” (which was also selected in Venice in 2009), his productions refer to a historical moment: there, it was Taiwan’s “White Terror” of the 1950s, while here, it is Hong Kong’s growing resistance to British colonial rule.
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