Mesmeric Animation

A generational history lesson unfolds in Jennifer Zheng’s vibrantly composed yet poignant short animation Tough. Capturing the first conversation between a Chinese mother and her British-born daughter as adults, Tough allows the former to reflect back on her time as a child during the Cultural Revolution, the roles that her siblings and her parents played as attitudes in her homeland shifted drastically, and the lessons that she learned along the way. Speaking of her British upbringing, the younger woman questions what her identity means as someone with dual heritage.

Through uncomplicated yet mesmeric animation that incorporates influences from both homes and uses a startlingly bold palette, Tough is a respectful, thought-provoking lesson in learning the complicated, often compromising paths of the generations that came before you. 

Jennifer Zheng is a BAFTA-nominated animation director who also working in commercial filmmaking, with clients including CNN and the Guardian. 

Tough was featured in the animation programme of Aesthetica Short Film Festival. The strand is a longstanding celebration of creativity across a range of visual mediums and largely appeals to audiences young and small. Over its ten-year lifetime, ASFF has welcomed animated work from across the world that varies from the whimsical to the weighty, spun from the minds of artists who invariably go on to wide critical acclaim. 

Submissions are now open for the 10th edition of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival.

BAFTA-Qualifying ASFF 2020 takes place from 4 – 8 November with an unrivalled programme of short films and immersive media showcases, networking opportunities, career development initiatives and interactive talks, Q&As and workshops. Submit your work here.