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Liu Jian

Art College 1994

Director Liu Jian Composer David Wen-Wei Lian, Sun Yunfan, Cui Jian, Alex Liu, Chen Li Cast Bai-Ke, Xu Changchu, Guanjin Bu
118' - 2023 - Drama, Comedy, Animated film - Dialogue: Mandarin, Chinese, English
Painter-filmmaker Liu Jian drew from his own past for this meandering snapshot of the uncertain times as an art student in 1990s China. Meet a group of delightfully pretentious students, their lives, their dreams, their love for Nirvana and Marcel Duchamp, and their unpredictable future.

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.

"A sardonic but ultimately fond capsule of a time when the modern Chinese art world was playing host to a growing generational divide, Art College 1994 evades the trappings of the corny nostalgia flick, while its wandering narrative charts the exploits of art school students." - Sight and Sound

Image gallery

4eb361c7 7190 4e50 ad9e f5bb9fbcff4c



Liu Jian


David Wen-Wei Lian, Sun Yunfan, Cui Jian, Alex Liu, Chen Li


Bai-Ke, Xu Changchu, Guanjin Bu


Liu Jian, Lin Shan


Liu Jian


Yang Cheng, Shen Lihui, Gao Shiming

Production studios

Nezha Bros. Picture, Modern Sky Entertainment, China Academy of Art, School of Animation and Game


Periscoop Films

More info


Mandarin, Chinese, English

Countries of production





Liu Jian
Piercing I (2010), Have a Nice Day (2017), Art College 1994 (2023)