Wada-directed film wins silver in Berlin

Kyodo

A French animated film directed by prize-winning Japanese artist Atsushi Wada won the silver award Saturday in the short film section of the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.

The film “Great Rabbit,” using a delicate hand-drawn style, is about people who worship a rabbit, an allusion to an aspect of modern society in which people unconsciously submit themselves to something mysterious.

The jury said the film depicts “the confusion of the modern world in an animated form.”

Wada, 31, who now lives in London, said, “I am proud to win this award. I feel relieved because I used to think my works were rather hard to understand.”

“In the work, the rabbit (admired by people) doesn’t have any particular significance at all but I depicted it because I liked it,” he said.

Meanwhile, a festival jury comprised of children gave a special award for a film for viewers aged 13 or younger to the Japanese work “Kikoeteru, furi wo sita dake” (“I Only Pretended to Hear You”).

Kaori Imaizumi, a 30-year-old nurse in Tokyo, used her time taking maternity leave to shoot the film depicting the life of a girl after losing her mother. “I cannot even believe my film was shown” in the Berlin festival, Imaizumi said.

In a similar contest for films for youths aged 14 to 17, a short Japanese animation titled “663114” by Isamu Hirabayashi, on the theme of last March’s devastating quake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, also received an award.

“Through a simple metaphor he portrays the survival of a culture, even in the face of catastrophe,” the youth jury said in praising the work.

The animated film tells the story of a cicada that, after spending 66 years underground since the end of World War II, emerges only to survive the natural disasters and meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station.

The title 663114 stands for 66 years, 3/11 (or March 11, the date of the earthquake and tsunami) and four (the number of nuclear reactors crippled at the Fukushima plant.)

A message from director Hirabayashi, who was in Japan, was read out at the awards ceremony.

“Children are being exposed to dangerous radioactivity a year after the earthquake. It is our responsibility as Japanese adults to protect the children.”