Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Cédric Villain "Mon Chinois" ("My Chinese") (2009)

Writing the Animation Blog for three years now means that I can often name the animator for a piece of work before reading the credits. Not difficult this time! My Chinese is from the utterly distinctive Cédric Villain who brought us the devastating history of Napoleon (Portraits ratés à Sainte-Hélène ) a while back. This time he does the business on the Chinese by introducing us to Mon Chinois. It won the Best Short Animation award in in Brazil's Anima Mundi 2009 festival and was brought to my attention by Rodrigo Molinsky, whose YouTube channel provides the link above. Cédric adopts a similar approach to his earler work by creating a slide show presentation of simply animated illustrations, counterpoised by voice-overs in an understated, deadpan style that engages the audience with its wit and insight. He deals in stereotypes such as dominant facial features, their lack of height. His humour may be edgy but most of all it is thoroughly entertaining. My Chinese, he tells us, has a wife with tiny feet - wife falls over: My Chinese is a good mason - image of the great wall. The piece exudes charm, praising the nation for its discoveries, inventions, martial arts but does not shirk censure, albeit in a gentle manner, in the coverage of the Chinese diet (they eat dogs), the invasion of Tibet or the use of child labour. Pretty fabulous satire all round with an end result that is an impressive and impressed presentation of the Chinese people. Rodrigo kindly supplied me with a translation of the director's note of intent:
"I like Chinese. I like their tiny little trees, their zen, their ping-pong, their yin, and yang-ese..." (Eric Idle, 1970). The satire of the "Monty Python" is still valid as it seems to deny any subtlety and variety or simply look at a civilization so rich and extensive. During the Olympic Games in Beijing in August 2008, the media still were stuck on stereotypes China and the Chinese. This short film seeks to identify in a humorous way general stereotypes and archetypes associated with Chinese or Asian.

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