Liu Jian’s “Art College 1994,” the critically acclaimed Chinese animated feature competing at this week’s Annecy festival, has been acquired by New York-based outfit Dekanalog for North American distribution.
A poignant and vibrant portrait of on-campus youth at the Chinese Southern Academy of Arts in the early 1990s, the feature world premiered in competition at the Berlin Film Festival as one of the rare animated movies that have vied for the Golden Bear. “Art College 1994” will open in North American theaters in 2024, following its release in China.
“Art College 1994” is set against the backdrop of reforms opening China to the Western world and revolves around a group of college students who take their first steps into adulthood, where love and friendships are intertwined with artistic pursuits, ideals and ambitions. Caught between tradition and modernity, these young adults now have to choose who they want to become. The film, whose voice cast includes Venice Golden Lion-winning filmmaker Jia Zhangke, is filled with pop references and deadpan humor.
The long-gestated film marks Liu’s third feature after “Piercing I” and “Have A Nice Day,” which also competed at the Berlinale in 2017 and went on to win best animated feature at the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan. Memento International had sold “Have A Nice Day” in more than 30 territories.
“‘Art College 1994’ is such an exciting, life-affirming new film, and having the opportunity to share this masterclass of animation with cinema audiences in North America is a dream-come-true for us,” said Dekanalog’s co-founder Lysa Le. Liu Jian said he was “eager for everyone in North America to see the film.”
The deal was negotiated between Dekanalog and Mathieu Delaunay at Memento International.