LAAPFF 2020 Animated Shorts Spotlight

14 Oct

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film FestivalBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available to viewers in Southern California (excluding San Diego County) from October 1, 2020 at 12pm PT to October 31, 2020 at 11:59pm PT. Click here to find listings on Eventive.

In addition to the previous animated works which I have looked at playing at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, there’s plenty more. The works that are available range from experimental to enduring, and of those that are available, I’m glad to report that one on my list has world-wide distribution.

The following are my favourites:

Between the Shadows is a really simple work that effectively shows a ballet dancer chasing after a moonbeam in what may be a huge mosque. It’s a simple short where animator Chun Chun Chang is certainly practising with how lighting works in the digital realm. The sense of freedom witnessed breathes life to this work which I’m sure will eventually get a spotlight on YouTube’s collection of CGI shorts.

Plus, I don’t have to scream, “kitty!”


The Breathtaking Courage of Harriet Tubman – Janell Hobson is an animated biography which looks at this hero who escaped slavery and fought for women’s rights to vote in America. This animation wonderfully recounts her story in a simple minimalist form. The symbolism can’t also be missed!

This breathtaking look at her life from her days as a child to elder is one not to be missed, especially for students interested in American Black History. Director Yan Dan Wong is terrific at detailing moments to keep viewers engrossed.

This work is part of the TED-Ed Animations program, and it’s a must watch for any educator wanting to spotlight important figures in American history. This short is available to watch https://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-courage-of-harriet-tubman-janell-hobson


Esther Cheung‘s In Passing shouldn’t be passed up. We get a very cute look at two kids in a tenement who hardly bat an eye at each other even though they live on the same floor. However, if we look at a film synopsis, we learn they will one day date and fall in love. This tale is secondary to the look at life in Hong Kong circa the 70s. In wanting to get the details right, this filmmaker talked to her aunties and uncles still living there.

This work is more like a tease of what’s to come. Her dreamy picturesque look at life in a city is the highlight here. My hope this up and coming Canadian animator has plans to realize the tale introduced here in full.


Mr Orange & Baby Snot is a hilarious claymation piece, where as the title implies, is about a piece of booger which comes to life.

There’s no big plot here, but rather a demonstration of what new talents are out there should the creators of Robot Chicken be hiring! Animator Kana Hutchens shows she has that surreal sense of humour needed to be working in that front.


NINUFABUSHI MIIATI (GUIDED BY THE NORTH STAR) – 2020 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Ninufabushi Miiati (Guided by the North Star) is a marvel of watercolour images and a few bits of motion graphics which puts you into being part of the plight which took place in Okinawa in the early 1990s. Some locals left the motherland in hopes to make a better life for themselves in Latin America.

Flor Kaneshiro’s presentation doesn’t make you feel sad for these people. The melody is upbeat. Although no subtitles are provided in this music video like short, you get a good sense of the emotion when looking it up online. “Tinsagu nu Hana” ((天咲ぬ花)) is a fabulous song performed by Brandon Ing and Carolina Higa. It’s a traditional tune from this region which reflects upon Confucian ideals and I could listen to it all day, and feel happy.

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