“The Great Rabbit” hops to a win at Berlin fest

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The Great Rabbit

The Great Rabbit

Atsushi Wada’s “The Great Rabbit,” or “Gurehto Rabitto,” won the Berlinale Shorts International Jury’s Jury Prize (Silver Bear) at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

Produced in France, the wordless film uses a delicate hand-drawn style and runs for seven minutes.

“This dreamlike film uses a unique, surreal language to tickle our unconscious while showing us the confusion of the modern world in animated form,” said jurors. “Using a delicate hand-drawn style, Atsushi Wada decodes reality with absurd sequences of characters caught in time.”

“If you believe in the Rabbit, you’ll believe in anything. If you don’t believe in the Rabbit, it means that you wouldn’t believe anything,” said Wada, 31.

The film is about people who worship a rabbit. It alludes to an aspect of modern society in which people unconsciously submit themselves to something mysterious.

“I am proud to win this award,” said Wada, now a London resident. “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.”

Meanwhile, members of the Generation 14plus Youth Jury gave a Special Mention to Japanese director Isamu Hirabayashi’s animated eight-minute film 663114.

Every 66 years, a cicada makes its way out of the earth and climbs up a tree to shed its skin. This is the way it’s been since time immemorial. But this time, it’s different. In this film, an ostensibly resistant insect’s monologue draws a parallel between the catastrophes of Hiroshima and Fukushima. The insect poses a fundamental question about the future of our planet. Short but hard-hitting, 663114 takes different points of view.

“Visuals and sound melded together flawlessly to create a philosophical and layered masterpiece. The director conveys his message beyond all conventions. Through a simple metaphor, he portrays the survival of a culture, even in the face of catastrophe,” the jury said.

The film build on the theme of last March’s devastating quake, tsunami and nuclear disasters. After spending 66 years underground since the end of World War II, the cicada emerges only to survive the natural disasters and meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station.

The title 663114 is a reference to 66 years, 3/11 (March 11, the date of the earthquake and tsunami) and four (the number of nuclear reactors crippled at the Fukushima plant).

“Children are being exposed to dangerous radioactivity a year after the earthquake. It is our responsibility as Japanese adults to protect the children,” Hirabayashi, who was in Japan, said in a message that was read out at the awards ceremony.

The Berlin International Film Festival began February 9 and ends Sunday.

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