Does suffering make a good artist? This is just one of the many reflections in this nostalgia trip through the dreams and disillusions of students at an art school in China in the 1990s, a time when the country was opening up to the West. For a lot of young people, it turned out to be both a blessing and a curse, as the tug-of-war between tradition and modernity intensified. Liu Jian's third feature - in hand-painted 2D animation - is a semi-autobiographical portrait of a microcosm that weaves together conversations about Marcel Duchamp, Nirvana, the (non)sense of art, but also about friendship and the family duty to marry rather than have a career. With an infectious Linklater-like charm and voices from filmmakers Jia Zhangke and Bi Gan (among others), Liu Jian takes a critical approach towards art academies that preach freedom but actually restrict it. Ironically, Art College 1994 was drawn by a team of teachers and students at the China Academy of Art where Liu teaches as a professor.
David Wen-Wei Lian, Sun Yunfan, Cui Jian, Alex Liu, Chen Li
Bai-Ke, Xu Changchu, Guanjin Bu
Liu Jian, Lin Shan
Yang Cheng, Shen Lihui, Gao Shiming
Nezha Bros. Picture, Modern Sky Entertainment, China Academy of Art, School of Animation and Game
Mandarin, Chinese, English