The Sundance Film Festival, a program created by the Sundance Institute in August 1978, has shown a light on innovative creators since its inception. Over the years it has grown to become the largest independent film festival in the United States with almost 50,000 attendees in 2016. This year, students of Wasatch got the chance to experience Sundance’s first showing of an anime film, Lu Over the Wall, an original creation from the Science Saru animation company. The film focused on a gloomy youth, Kai, and how his life was transformed upon meeting a mermaid, Lu. Wasatch Academy had the privilege of seeing this film as part of Sundance’s outreach program.
Years of work went into Lu, and it showed both in the contributors’ passion and the quality of the film. Every aspect was original, from the story to the music. The animation was vibrant. While the movie is targeted toward children, any viewer could see the effort put into each frame. Such attention to detail is the strength of independent films. In fact, Lu Over the Wall is only Science Saru’s second production. Unfortunately, the youth of this company did show in the composition of the story. It seemed somewhat scatterbrained. Though the main plot and theme were clear, many of the ideas and characters were underdeveloped. However, such immature writing is common in children’s films. Considering the target age group, the appeal of Lu is undeniable in its bubbly, original score and colorful animation.
After the showing, several key players in the production of the film, walked on stage for a Q & A, including the director, Masaaki Yuasa, the animation coordinator, and several voice actors. The audience learned about the production of the film as well as its inspiration in traditional Japanese culture and folklore. Many were delighted to learn that the voice actors in the movie appeared in their favorite animes and video games. While the film itself may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, it was truly an honor for Wasatch students to get a taste of the Sundance Film Festival.
Written by Allison Coale
Wasatch Academy Student