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'Piercing'-ly Realistic Chinese Animation

Liu Jian and Le-Joy Animation Studio are walking on the edge of the Chinese film industry.

Le-Joy Animation Studio was founded in 2007 by Liu Jian, a former painter turned director who has worked on many Chinese films such as Big Shot’s Funnel with Feng Xiaogang and Chicken Poet with Meng Jinghui. He’s currently working on a new film in collaboration with The Studio and will give a panel discussion on Indie Animation Films In China with Ray Lei at our Beijing event next month.

In 2005, Liu Jian was appointed director of the 365-episode animation series Chong Chong, which was a turning point in his directoral career. After he founded Le-Joy Studio, this Nanking-based animator created a realistic, feature-length animation series called Time Trilogy, which includes the films School Town, Mr. 19 and Piercing 1.

Piercing 1, the latest animation in the series, took three years to make, which doesn’t seem too long when you take into account that every frame was sketched out on a Wacom graphic tablet. The soundtrack features music from the famous Chinese rock musician Zuoxiao Zuzhou, whose dark and sorrowful tone reinforces Liu Jian’s personal drawing style.

The plot depicts the story of an ordinary Chinese man, Zhang, who’s lost his factory job and falls into some bad luck when he’s shopping at a supermarket, mistaken for a thief and consequently beaten up. Zhang eventually gives up his lifelong dream of living in the city, and decides to go back to farming in his village.

Trailer for Piercing 1

The film has been shown in many European animation festivals and has received quite a number of awards. It reveals the darker side of Chinese society, the misfortunes of city life, and develops an alternative style of story telling.