China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The development of Chinese animation did not take place in a vacuum, but was always closely related to the international context. Before1949, Chinese animated films were influenced by the West. During the 1950s, Chinese animated films had a kinship with the Soviet Union. Soviet animated films were dubbed into Chinese and released in China. Some of them were regarded by Chinese animators as the “Bible” and emulation of such films was encouraged. Soviet animation theories were also published in Chinese film periodicals. The Shanghai Animation Film Studio sent its animators to Moscow to learn animation techniques and discuss the possibility of a Sino-Soviet co-production. According to many conventional histories of Chinese animation,the Sino-Soviet honeymoon came to a halt when an animated short titled Why Is the Crow Black (1955) won an award at an international film festival held in Venice in 1956. It was the first award of its kind in history of Chinese animation, but the international jurors initially regarded this film as a product of the Soviet Union, rather China. Chinese animators were frustrated and began to explore a uniquely “Chinese” national style since the late 1950s. Critically examining the various narratives revolving around the controversial Black Crow Incident, this paper will rewrite the established history of Chinese animation and demonstrate how the discourse of Chineseness, national style, and national identity was strategically constructed in times of national and cultural crises in the 1950s.