23rd Animation Division New Face Award
Elephant in the bath house
Animated short film
CHENG Jialin [China]
The work, depicted in a monologue format, is about a black elephant that a little girl encounters at a bathhouse. The scene is set at a workers’ bathhouse located in a corner of a town full of factories in China in the late 1990s. One day, the girl visits the bathhouse with her mother as they do every day and encounters the black elephant as small as an ant. Since then, every time she visits there, the elephant appears in front of her, growing slightly bigger than the previous time. As time passes, the elephant grows larger and larger, while the buildings and factories in her town are town down, and, in the end, the bathhouse, too, is shut down. With hand-drawing-like, rough lines and colorful but gentle and light tones, the film conveys the nostalgic atmosphere of the bathhouse from the recent past with the vagueness of a black elephant.
I was fascinated by a bath house being the focal point of this film. Being in a place where people bare both their bodies and their soul, a little girl’s feelings and visions in the crowd of naked adults are depicted in vibrant drawings that fill the screen. Displaying the freedom of expression inherent to hand-drawn animation, the film conveys the sensitivity of the creator. I particularly liked the animation images that contrast the size of the girl with that of the elephant and adults. It is up to the viewers to determine what the small elephant that the girl found may be, but a certain sense of fear, along with the unembellished narration, display an air of cool and composed observation of a society and its people. These components convey the power of the creator and her future promise. (YOKOSUKA Reiko)