Wen Ling Lim, Storyboard Revisionist here at Brown Bag Films Toronto, is a talented illustrator, animator and storyteller.
As a recent grad, she may be new to the professional world of animation, but her work has caught the eye of many including the selection committee at Toronto Youth Shorts, where her thesis film Mourning Cup is scheduled to screen this weekend (September 21-22), as part of the festival’s SPARKS programming.
Toronto Youth Shorts is Ontario's largest youth-focused film festival. The festival offers young filmmakers from the Province of Ontario a chance to showcase their work to a captive audience, learn from one another, and engage experienced working professionals.
Mourning Cup does a phenomenal job at evoking an emotional response in a short amount of time, 51 seconds to be exact. The title itself is a fitting description of the piece, with the film dedicated to Wen’s grandparents, it is a beautiful look at love and loss.
Despite a dark opening scene, Wen stays true to her generally positive outlook and incorporates her signature style that often includes pastels or vibrant colours, as well as characters that appear to exude innocence.
It’s quite difficult not to feel happy, uplifted and inspired by her work.
We sat down with Wen to discuss Mourning Cup and learn more about her inspiration for the film, her take on SPARKS and her creative journey.
What was the inspiration for Mourning Cup?
The short was inspired by the experiences of myself and other people I knew who had lost their loved ones. I wanted to make a short where I could communicate the idea of how losing a loved one can leave us feeling broken and in a way that loss can leave a scar on your heart that never fully heals, but it's not something that you need to hide and there can be lessons and strength to be drawn from that loss. Basically, I didn't want to present death and loss as all doom and gloom, and to try and provide a slightly more positive yet realistic take on things. In a way, I hope that this film can somehow provide at least some comfort to those who may have been or are going through similar situations.
How did it end up as part of the SPARKS programming?
I submitted my film to Toronto Youth Shorts' call for submissions and just left everything up to fate. I had no idea if the film would even be selected or which program it would be a part of. SPARKS is a selection of films that are classified as suitable for kids, which makes me glad because one of the driving forces behind creating this film was also the idea of “How would I communicate/explain the experience of loss and mourning in such a way even a child could understand it?” Whether it's actually successful in achieving that is something I don't really know yet though.
Do you have any tips for creating an animation short?
There's no one right way of doing things, but I personally believe in sincerity and organization. I like telling stories that are true to myself and my experiences, even if they may not be the stories other people want to hear right now. As for organization, having a plan is always good even if things don't always go as planned - That way you always have a point of reference to build off of even if things get messy.
Watch Wen’s short this Friday, September 21, 12 pm at the Palmerston Theatre, along with a selection of other live-action and animated short films suitable for kids.
Admission is free.