‘We hope more people will understand that animation is much more than cartoons and will support local creations.’
‘The 54th Golden Horse Awards for Best Animated Short Film goes to … Losing Sight of a Longed Place — Shek Ka-chun (Isaac), Wong Chun-long and Wong Tsz-ying (Jess)! Congratulations!’ On 25 November 2017 the three fresh graduates from the Animation and Visual Effects programme had their first taste of the red carpet in Taipei. Up until that moment, they had been content with the eye-opening experience of the grand occasion alone. When their names were announced on stage, they were entirely dumbfounded.
‘We really love film, and also animation… We’ve always watched the Oscars and the Golden Horse …’ Isaac spoke first, still recovering from the shock. Indeed, the trio are still reflecting on the implications of the unanticipated laurels, having received the surprising nomination from among 300 Golden Horse Award entries. They had entered their final-year project into various competitions.
The creation of the 7m45s experimental animated documentary, incorporating mixed media such as watercolour, crayon and newspaper cuttings, was an experimental adventure from the outset. ‘When our teacher, Senior Lecturer Mr Vincent Mak, suggested that we look for inspiration from social issues,’ Jess recalls, ‘what we had in mind was to interview inhabitants of “cage homes”. But soon we dropped the idea because we didn’t have that kind of network. Then we found out we had quite a few gay friends, so we decided to start from there.’ While all but one of the ten interviewees were their personal friends, they were most moved by the story of Adam Wan, Chairman of college-based LGBT advocacy group Action Q whom they met online. ‘We also thought of weaving the character traits of all ten interviewees into a fictitious image, or piecing together episodes from the protagonist’s experiences. Throughout the year, the film went through five different versions.’ In the end, considering the length limitation, the team revisited the father-son tension that first caught their attention and focused on the sense of helplessness felt by the gay activist at home. The sentiment portrayed turned out to be transferrable, shared by other minority communities as well as the young generation seeking social change.
The young animators who have just embarked on their career see the enviable accolade as an ‘awesome’ honour. Chun-long admits feeling pressure regarding the next steps, and in Jess’ view, ‘all other nominees are superb. We have much room for improvement.’ President Prof. Yuk-Shan Wong, however, reminded the team to relax while offering his congratulations: ‘The award shows industry recognition of your work. More opportunities will come.’ At present, Isaac and Jess are engaged in full-time creative work at an online radio station and a production house respectively, whereas Chun-long has chosen to be a freelance animator, ‘so that I have more room to pursue what I really want to do while I am still young.’ The trio began their fruitful partnership when they met in Year 3 and hit it off right away. As of now, they have no concrete future plans except that they ‘definitely want to continue’. ‘We hope more people will understand that animation is much more than cartoons and will support local creations,’ says Chun-long, aware that how far they can go will depend on the audience. Before it was nominated for the Golden Horse Awards, Losing Sight of a Longed Place was voted audience’s choice in the DigiCon6 Asia Awards — Hong Kong. So far so good.