Likovna akademija 1994 / 藝術學院 / Art College 1994

Likovna akademija 1994 / 藝術學院 / Art College 1994


In the 1990s, a group of students on the campus of the Chinese Southern Academy of Arts are pursuing their studies and preparing to face the world. China is opening up to the West and the students’ lives are a tangle of love stories and friendships, artistic research, ideals and ambitions brought about by new influences. Caught between tradition and modernity, they have to decide who they want to become.

Directed by Liu Jian, a professor at CAA School of Animation and Games, and produced by a team of teachers and students over a span of five years, the film is a significant creative and pedagogical product of CAA's pursuit of "neorealistic animation".
Art College 1994 is a unique 2D hand-drawn animated film with aesthetics that exhibits distinctive Chinese elements. Its director began his education in Chinese paintings. Well versed in the domain, Prof. Liu employed techniques found in Chinese paintings groundbreakingly. The result is scenes and characters that are undisputedly, authentically Chinese and of an aesthetic style distinguishable from American and Japanese animation.

In 2016, I returned to my alma mater. It had been over 20 years since I left the place. A row of new, tidy buildings of steel and concrete stood like a wall between the past and the present, cleaving my memories into two. I heard someone call my name then. I turned around, and saw my former teacher. His hair had gone white. He was standing next to a couple of young students who were laughing. Suddenly, I was struck by the harsh reality of time. That was when the seed of the movie was sowed in my head. I joined CAA and became a teacher after that, which gave me new ideas for Art College 1994.
It isn't a nostalgic film, but one that celebrates the beauty of life and art with every young person and every young soul hidden within an old person.
I want it to be a song that is loud and earnest, that reaches deep into every young soul, and sings praises of their courage and vitality.
- Liu Jian

Awards and festivals (selection):
- Best Feature Cristal Nominee, Annecy IAFF 2023
- Golden Bear Nominee, Berlin IFF 2023
- Sydney Film Prize Nominee, Sydney FF 2023
- Free Spirit Award Nominee, Warsaw IFF 2023

Film info

Directed by: Liu Jian
Production: Nezha Bros. Pictures/Modern Sky Entertainmemt/China Academy of Art, School of Animation and Game
Festival programme: Animated Feature Films
Year: 2023
Length: 118'
Country: China