14th BFI FUTURE FILM FESTIVAL, 2021

"I USED TO FOCUS ON MAKING VISUAL LOOKS COMPLICATED AND BEAUTIFUL, IGNORED OTHER SIDES OF THE FILM, SUCH AS PACING, NARRATIVES, EMOTIONS, AND COMMUNICATING."

Shiyi Li
Burn & Soothe
Animation
Section: FIND MY CREW 

Burn & Soothe screens as part of the BFI Future Film Festival from 18-21 February, free on BFI Player

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A woman reflects on a past love story while she is driving at sunset. Over a series of montages presenting images of desire, the woman reminisces for her past love, but knows that she must move forward from her past. Burn & Soothe contrasts images of intense passion with more soothing, comforting experiences, to demonstrate the duality of love and the comfort of memory in this pastel animation.


Hi Shiyi thank you for talking to TNC, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

Hey, excited to taking the interview, thanks! 

I am doing ok! It is a very strange time for everybody, I had some difficult feelings during the first national lockdown, but now I am adapting to the new normal! 

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?

Yes, I think so. 

The pandemic gave me more time to spend with myself, made me think the relationships between my inner and outer world. It reflected to the narratives in my films. 

In addition, it made me think what filmmakers or artists can do to bring warmth to people, or make the world a little better while everything is kind of crazy out there.

Congratulations on having Burn & Soothe selected for the BFI Future Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of The Infinite Playlist section?
 

Thanks!

I think it means a lot to me. Made me realized there will be more audiences watch my films, also people from different culture backgrounds. I felt sort of responsibility of what kind energy I want to bring to them. Also, so grateful being part of festival!

Can you tell me a little bit about Burn & Soothe, how did this film come about?

Burn & Soothe was commissioned by a psych rock Austin band called MOPAC. 

By that time, I was experimenting new visual styles inspired by rotoscoping animation. I remember MOPAC really loved one of my experiments of car driving rotoscoping animation, they think their music is like road trip music as well, so that’s how it all started! 

What where the biggest challenges you faced brining this film to life?

It’s the narrative. 

As a storyteller, I was struggling with storytelling. Sound like a challenge I shouldn’t have, but by that time, I don’t have the idea and confidence in what kind of narrative methods are eye-catching. I was just experimenting and go with the flow.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

I would do the character design a little different. Especially the man character.

What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Burn & Soothe?

What can make a good film to watch, it’s not about focusing on one aspect. 

I used to focus on making visual looks complicated and beautiful, ignored other sides of the film, such as pacing, narratives, emotions, and communicating. Because ‘Burn & Soothe’ ‘s minimalism style, made me emphasize other aspects of this film, complement each other.

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
 

Yes, since I was 6. 

I grow up with ‘Tom and Jerry’, and all the Disney films. Also animations from Shanghai Animation Film Studio (China) such as ‘The Monkey King’, ‘Lotus Lantern’ and ‘Calabash Brothers’

My father is a big fan of films, he brought me to the cinema on weekends, he introduced me ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Lord of the Ring’, ‘Alien’, ‘Jurassic Park’ and even many horror films. In the corner of our house, there was a shelf full of film & animation CDs. I remember there were always films playing as a background while I was doing other things, sometimes even during sleep! 

They shaped my passion for film. 

I never thought of being an animator by that age, just really enjoy watching them!

"There’s no good or bad result really, every time you put something out there, will be feedbacks and you can learn from the process."

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been give?

Don’t spend too much time think the ideas before you actually start to do or try anything.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Yes, always indeed! That’s how we learn from the process, if we failed which means we have more to learn!

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

If you have ideas just start to do something or messing around! 

There’s no good or bad result really, every time you put something out there, will be feedbacks and you can learn from the process. The key is keep going! 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Burn & Soothe?

I think a sense of relaxation. Even the lady in the film let her past love go and moved on, what can’t you let go?

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