While at an animation festival in Ningbo this week to deliver a presentation on “China’s Next 90 Minutes”, I was asked the following question by a local reporter:
“If the Chinese animation industry is like a baby compared to the USA, what age would that baby currently be?”
“The Chinese animation industry isn’t a baby. It’s an adult who is recovering from a massive stroke.”
My analogy was of course in reference to the fact that the Chinese produced an animated feature film (“Princess Iron Fan”) within a few years of Walt Disney’s “Snow White”, and subsequently created a remarkably beautiful and groundbreaking body of animation… until the upheavals of the 20th century took their toll (see the above link for details).
While sad, this history should in fact be an inspiration to all aspiring Chinese animators today. China is not trying to achieve the impossible: it is instead trying to reclaim former animation glory.
But a new Golden Age of Chinese animation will come from the bottom up, not the top down. The talent is here. Will it be allowed to flourish?
I’m betting on it.
~ Kevin Geiger