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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