The 13-minute film is an animated proverb that takes you into the heart of a porcelain plate, bringing the blue lines of life and weaving a haunting story of love and family betrayal.
Director’s Notes – Veialu Aila-Unsworth
“I have eaten many a hot meal off this plate design - either at my Great Aunt’s or during a student-flat dinner. It still makes me laugh to think that such an elegant plate, with such a beautiful story, would find itself being smothered by left over macaroni and cheese or fish pie.
So for me, this plate carries more than just the Blue Willow legend; it may be Chinese in flavour, but the film actually says more about Kiwiana culture. Like the enigmatic Mona Lisa, Virgin Mary or Maori Tiki, the Willow pattern has its own kitsch great-grandchildren subverting those older perspectives of the world - all those insistent ‘isms’: Imperialism, Orientalism, Capitalism, Feminism and so on. The plate holds several histories.
This is my first animated film and it took 12 months to make - from writing the first draft to the final sound mix. The genre is a collision of many things - absurdism, magic realism, the ridiculous, the crude, the dangerous, the quiet, the absolute, the gorgeous, the surreal, the mischievous. Yet all this freedom meant many more decisions had to be made - one of the most challenging parts of this project was settling on a "look" and not being seduced by all the exciting possibilities of, say, Japanese Anime, classic Warner Bros or stop motion with clay or puppets. Many months pasted before we finally chose our leading lady's face.
I also tried experimenting with combining the techniques I have learnt in the theatre with the skills I have as a filmmaker; this became very useful when it came to developing the character's vocal performance.
This film grew from my own desire to answer the question: what is that enduring quality, that original elegance which inspired Thomas Minton to design this plate 300 years ago? The same thing that inspired me to make this film.”
2005 - New Zealand Film Festival. 2006 - Berlin Film Festival, Brisbane International Film Festival, Chicago International Children's Festival, ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival.
Colour, 35 mm, 1:1.85