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Crazy Talented Asians & Friends animation returns to Flushing Town Hall

Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall

Flushing Town Hall has selected several short films to be honored at this year’s Crazy Talented Asians & Friends animation shorts showcase, “Celebrating APA Heritage Month, Frame by Frame.” 

The program will be livestreamed on Saturday, May 29, on YouTube at 6 p.m. featuring live conversations with the artists to share their stories. 

Crazy Talented Asians & Friends is a community-led program series dedicated to works by Asian and Asian Americans in order to showcase the diverse creativity and impact this community has to offer, while bringing together families, friends and audiences from different backgrounds to celebrate their stories. 

“Flushing Town Hall is excited to continue promoting works by young and emerging Asian-heritage artists with the return of Crazy Talented Asians & Friends. Asian/Asian American artists and their stories need to be heard and cherished, especially in these times,” said Ellen Kodadek, Flushing Town Hall’s executive and artistic director. “We have been a strong advocate of arts equity since 1979, supporting local, immigrant, national and international artists. We develop partnerships and collaborations to bring people together by presenting arts and culture from around the world. Highlighting Asian/Asian American perspectives and talents is an important part of our mission.”

The event premiered in 2020 with great success in viewership and brought a community together through beautifully animated stories, all despite COVID’s challenges.

This year’s selected animation shorts, representing the top 4 percent of the several hundreds of submissions, were chosen by a panel of seasoned film professionals for their extraordinary storytelling, art direction, animation, production and sound design. In addition to their creative visuals and soundtracks, these films present a range of stories and experiences as diverse as the APA community itself.

The films include the following, among others:

  • “Harunohi,” or “Spring Day,” is about kindness that while everyone has it, tends to freeze when cold days continue, by Imai Yuka.
  • “In the Forest, We Grew” is about two red pandas that set off to build their dream house together in a bamboo forest, by Vincy Guan and Sunnie Moon.
  • “Left Unsaid” is about cultural dysphoria and the barriers between a grandfather and grandchild, by Mei Lian Hoe.
  • “Mirage” surprises the viewers with a clever use of special effects, by Xiaoli Zhang.
  • “Scooped!” tells the story of nine eccentric robbers on a mysterious mission, by Alan Dharmasaputra Wijaya.

 This year’s jury is led by Hsiang Chin Moe, an artist and educator with experience in higher education, production, technology and management. Aside from being the BFA Animation Chair at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Moe also serves on the board of Women in Animation as the chair for education program where her direct focus is to provide the support and resources for students as well as educators to reach the goal of gender equity 50/50 by 2025. 

“It is my extreme honor to celebrate APA Heritage Month with an amazing selection of animated films,” Moe said. “Special thanks to all the filmmakers for sharing their stories with our audience and inviting us on a journey of imagination. Their talent is a true representation of how unique and creative Asian American filmmakers are, and the celebration is expanded to all the Asian creators in the world.”

The jury panel also includes the following:

  • Wen-Chin Hsu, who has been a lighting technical director at Pixar Animation Studio since 2008. Before joining Pixar, she worked for Tippett Studio and ILM. Her work is included in numerous VFX films, animated feature films and she specializes in storytelling using color and lights.
  • Gonzalo Janer is a Colombian character animator and motion graphics artist, currently working at Nickelodeon and teaching animation at ESPOL (Guayaquil, Ecuador). He is passionate about programming and the technical aspects of animation: making art through code and scripting tools to aid his workflow.  
  • Pilar Newton is an animator, cartoonist and educator. She got her start doing animation production art on shows such as “Courage the Cowardly Dog” for Cartoon Network and MTV’s “Daria.” In 2008 she established her Brooklyn-based production company PilarToons LLC. Pilar also teaches animation at the City College of New York and the School of Visual Arts.
  • CJ Walker is an illustrator and background artist currently based in New York City. They currently work at Titmouse NY as a background designer and layout artist, but have also been a background painter, character layout artist, prop designer, risograph printer and perspective teacher. 
  • Wendy Cong Zhao is an independent artist based in Brooklyn. She has been working and teaching in the animation field since 2011. She started her career as an editor and compositor at Signe Baumane’s Studio. She also worked as the senior producer at Bill Plympton Studio. Her animated documentary “My First Sessions” was published by The New Yorker. She recently directed two music videos for Verve Records.

“Flushing Town Hall is proud to continue amplifying Asian/Asian American voices by providing a platform for young and talented animators to showcase their works and fostering creative dialogues about storytelling with animation form,” said Ya Yun Teng, Flushing Town Hall’s Chinese projects director. “It was especially heartwarming to see how the event brought people of different backgrounds together during this unprecedented global pandemic.”

The program on May 29 will only screen some of the selected films, due to limited time. To register for the free event, click here.

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