Blue Willow took 12 months to make – including 8 weeks of production when the film’s musical score, illustrations and animation were created.
Dave Batt – Concept Artist & Storyboards
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Dave is a freelance illustrator and writer. He has worked for a variety of publications including Victoria University’s Salient magazine. His early sketches were crucial in developing the “look” of Blue Willow.
Jing is originally from Haikou, the capital of Hainan Island, off the coast of mainland China. She lives in Wellington with her husband and manages one of Wellington’s student hostels. It was her first time recording voice-over for an animated film.
Tom Beachamp – Voice of Tajin & Father
Tom is also a graduate of New Zealand’s prestigious Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School. As well as a being a physical theatre director, Tom is also an accomplished actor and circus performer.
Dan Caddy – Voice of Chang
Dan is an acting graduate of Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School. He has starred in numerous stage productions, radio dramas and the television series “The Strip”, a New Zealand comedy about a male strip club.
(Experimental Arts Magazine)
Bordering somewhere between dream, myth and critical reality, the films of Wellington artist Veialu Aila-Unsworth question ideas of culture, identity, time and space. Spurred by a deep personal search, Aila-Unsworth goes beyond the surface of mythology to tell stories that affirm and connect. Located deep within her imagination, her films are as lucid as they are direct.
With a New Zealand mother and Papua New Guinean father, Aila-Unsworth has always been pulled between cultures. “I was born in Papua New Guinea but moved to New Zealand when I was about four,” she says. “I’ve only been back once and that was to go and meet my father, my real father… It’s a part of me that I’m yet to fully explore.”
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Blue Willow has screened in a number of Chinese classrooms. Here are a few comments by some of the teenage students:
“It’s very perfect and very imaginative. I enjoy it very much. I think you (the director) make the film represents your love (of) Chinese history, enjoy the style of Chinese love and Chinese culture.” (boy)
“In the end, I think someone’s freedom is more important than any other things.” (boy)
“I think the director conveys feeling that lovers will (be) together forever. From the film, I saw that as lovers we need to try and get along well together.” (boy)
“In my opinions, from the film, I saw that as a family we need to try to get along well together. If parents have something (they) want to solve, they should discuss (it) with their children. They don’t decide by themselves.” (girl)
“I love this film and think the art work is very good.” (girl)
“In this film, I saw that love doesn’t have limits and parents should let their children find their own happiness. Of course, lovers will (be) together forever.” (girl)
“When it was finished, I was very sad. I think family needs happiness. They should give freedom for their children.” (girl)
“The director only use simple colour and simple people, but she can express colourful feelings. It’s really excellent. From the film, I see that you should catch your love bravely when you meet (problems). Don’t be afraid and give up.” (girl)
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For New Zealand jewelery designer Lindsay Pemberton, the tea set is a source of inspiration. A fascination with simple domestic rituals like brewing a pot of tea led her to experiment with vintage teacups found in second hand shops. By dissecting them with a diamond saw, she’s given them a new lease of life as highly attractive and surprisingly strong Tea Bangles.
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Blue Willow has screened in over 26 film festivals in 11 countries.
European Film Festivals
Berlin International Film Festival (Germany)
Clermont-Ferrand – sales market (France)
Granada Film Festival (Spain)
Hamburg Short Film Festival (Germany)
Ale Kino! Film Festival (Poland)
Sexta em Curtas (Portugal)
Oceanic Film Festivals
New Zealand International Film Festival (New Zealand)
Brisbane International Film Festival (Australia)
Wairoa Film Festival (New Zealand)
In the Bin Film Festival (Australia)
Show Me Shorts (Australia)
Coromandel Film Festival (New Zealand)
Out Of The Blue (New Zealand)
Magma Short Film Festival (New Zealand)
WIFT International Short Film Showcase (New Zealand)
Reel Asians – WIFT fundraising event (New Zealand)
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How to come close to the picture on a porcelain plate that exerted a strange fascination for one as child? Director Veialu Aila-Unsworth’s film is based on a scene depicted on a plate she used to eat off as a child at her grandmother’s house – an image that has remained with her all her life. At the film’s centre is Koong-se, the beautiful daughter of a Chinese mandarin.
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THUS BEGINS the narration of Wellington filmmaker Veialu Aila-Unsworth’s short animation, Blue Willow, told by its lead character, Kong-se, the beautiful daughter of a rich Mandarin. In this, her second film, Aila-Unsworth revisits the old legend attached to the famous ceramic pattern designed by Thomas Minton at the end of the 18th century.
The tale tells the story of Kong-se who has been promised in marriage to the brutal warrior Ta Jin. Kong-se, though, loves a commoner, her father’s assistant, Cheng. And on the eve of the wedding the two risk everything by escaping and running away
Blue Willow screened at the Berlin Film Festival as part of the Kinderfest section.
The festival occurs in February, in the thick of German winter.
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“It was freezing. The first five days there was snow and that was really magical because at nighttime when we’d come out of the cinemas there’d be the smell of bockwurst sausages and hot mulled wine that they’d sell out on the street. You’d look up and there’d be snowflakes coming down through the trees.”
The Kinderfest section, in which Blue Willow screened, is one of six in the festival and features 21 short films and 21 features. This year’s theme was world migration and its increasing impact on how different generations live together. The Kinderfest aims to get children involved in interacting with film. Aila-Unsworth said she’d never thought of her film as being specifically for a young audience but neither too had any of the other filmmakers she spoke to.
in which Blue Willow screened, is one of six in the festival and features 21 short films and 21 features. This year’s theme was world migration and its increasing impact on how different generations live together. The Kinderfest aims to get children involved in interacting with film. Aila-Unsworth said she’d never thought of her film as being specifically for a young audience but neither too had any of the other filmmakers she spoke to.
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“I didn’t even really know children’s festivals existed. But you could really see they cared about young people and making sure they’d bring them into the culture of not only viewing films but seeing them with a critical eye. So they had a children’s jury who actually gave out the big award, they call it the Crystal Bear, and child journalists who were updating a website and a magazine. They took kids seriously. And these kids were bright too.
This short film was kindly funded by The New Zealand Film Commission, The Screen Innovations Fund, Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School and the
Victoria University of Wellington Film & Theatre Programme.