Over the last few weeks we’ve explored the work of the Grammy-nominated filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang.
It’s impossible to think of the recent work of Björk or FKA twigs without thinking of the mystical imagery and surrealist world-building of Andrew Thomas Huang.
During his residency for FACT, we’ve not only looked at the making of the videos for ‘The Gate’ and ‘Cellophane’, but we’ve also showcased his dazzling forays into narrative cinema, premiering a behind the scenes look at his 2019 short Kiss of the Rabbit God and presenting the world premiere of his short film, Lily Chan and the Doom Girls.
“While searching for an underlying theme in my work, I keep running into the idea of hybridity”, says Huang, “whether it’s cultural or sexual hybridity of my characters, or visual hybridity between live action and visual effects, I am interested in the creation of characters that straddle multiple worlds.” This creative cross-pollination between different disciplines, environments and voices is fundamental to his filmmaking practice and testament to the breadth of his technical skill and artistic vision.
The Making of Kiss of the Rabbit God (兔兒神):
Inspired both his own family’s 40-year history running a Cantonese restaurant and What The Master Would Not Discuss, a poem by Qing Dynasty poet Yuan Mei, in Kiss of the Rabbit God, Huang follows a Chinese-American restaurant worker (Teddy Lee) as he falls in love with Tu’er Shen (Jeff Chen), an 18th Century Qing Dynasty deity, otherwise known as The Rabbit God. By drawing on Tu’er Shen, the patron deity of queer who is still worshipped today, Huang anchors a contemporary story of sexual awakening and self-discovery in the mystical past.
Lily Chan and the Doom Girls:
Lily Chan and the Doom Girls follows the titular Lily, a repressed Chinese-American girl who discovers her own voice when she is adopted by an anarchic and glamorous girl gang, the Doom Girls. The short is a glimpse of Huang’s debut feature film, TIGER GIRL, a surreal coming-of-age fantasy set in 1960s Los Angeles that unfolds as Lily Chan discovers a tiger living in the attic of the home she shares with her socially anxious and domineering mother.
FKA twigs – ‘Cellophane’ (Behind the Scenes):
Huang guides us through the making of ‘Cellophane’, demonstrating how a combination of live choreography, intricate CG design, puppetry and practical effects came together in a masterpiece of contemporary world-building. By showing the working behind his process, he once again establishes his practice as in part a continued exploration of hybridity and synthesis, blending live action and visual effects to bring FKA twigs’ visual narrative to life.
Björk – ‘The Gate’ (Behind the Scenes):
Back in 2017, Alessandro Michele, James Merry and Huang came together in collaboration with Björk to bring into being the surreal world of ‘The Gate’. The utopian vision, which takes cues from fantasy video game landscapes, sees Björk inviting us to observe her inner most processes, as she allows us to glimpse into the wound that featured prominently in the imagery surrounding her 2015 album, Vulnicura, before exchanging energies with an intricately animated CGI lover.
For more information about Andrew Thomas Huang and his work, you can visit his website and follow him on Instagram.
Watch next: Andrew Thomas Huang Presents – Lily Chan and the Doom Girls