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Hana short film review


Directed by: #DMulsionProduction

Film review by: Max White


Hana is a charming short animation film made which was made all the more special to watch the second time around when I understood its origin. The film is about the life and ambitions of a schoolgirl (Angel Rinna) in Malaysia. That part is unremarkable enough. The remarkable bit is that it was shot and produced by real-life primary school children with the help of their teachers.

The very same children that made Hana to critical acclaim would go on to win an international film award in 2020 for their animated film Batuh Bijanji, which means Promise Stones in the Bidayuh Bisadung language.

In a video hosted on the D-Mulsion Production’s YouTube channel it says the SK Temong schoolchildren made Hana for the 2017 Digital Storytelling Animation Competition. In this video we get a behind the scenes look at how the children made the film, which, they tell us, relies heavily on a technique known as the rotoscope technique: digitally tracing over previously shot live action footage frame by frame.

Watching this video, you can't help but smile seeing such young children operating cameras and acting out scenes which they’ll later render into moving images. There’s clearly a passionate and dedicated teacher or team of staff behind this project, and talented young minds who are willing to learn and to create.

And it’s that which makes this film so enjoyable to watch; knowing what’s gone into it makes the experience richer. That’s not to say the film isn’t a pleasure in itself.

The story centres neatly on a young girl’s life both at home and at school, leading up to an important school exam known as the UPSR. The narrator (Rinna) tells us about how she wakes early to help her mother with housework as her father’s unwell. She then walks to school with her friends where her mother sells kuih – a sweet treat that’s usually vibrant in colour and often made from rice. It’s a tidy little parcel of uncomplicated storytelling delivered by such young filmmakers.

As you might expect, the quality of the animation techniques vary, showing the children are clearly enjoying experimenting with the form. The way the music's introduced is at times jarring and the transitions feel spliced in last-minute, but then like I say, they're primary schoolchildren – what do you expect? Its flaws are part of its appeal.


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