L.A. Premiere Screening of BREATHLESS by Lei Lei

China Onscreen and Film at REDCAT present


Los Angeles Premiere



by Lei Lei



Monday, November 18, 8:30 pm @ REDCAT


An evening with award-winning Chinese animator and multimedia artist Lei Lei, featuring his first feature-length work and 2019 Berlinale entry, Breathless Animals.

Preceding the feature will be a selection of Lei Lei’s short animations. The evening will conclude with a Q&A with the filmmaker.





“By disconnecting image and sound, Breathless Animals opens a wonderfully speculative space. Watching it is like feeling the distance between images, a chain of visual echoes.” – Hyperallergic 


“A hypnotic and postmodern entity built upon the breaking down of mediums…” – Asian Movie Pulse


“Chinese animator, artist and musician Lei Lei, creates (or recreates) environments that often fuse magic realism, science-fiction, comic books and video games into visually delicious, handmade, candy-colored worlds that are naïve, hopeful, nostalgic and occasionally silly in the belief that love can liberate us all. – Chris Robinson, Artistic Director, Ottawa International Animation Festival









USA, 2019, DCP, 68 min.

Director / Screenwriter / Producer / Editor / Composer / Sound Designer: Lei Lei


“What did you dream about and how was your life as a teenager?” An unseen woman speaks in voice-over, recalling her youthful memories from the 1950s to the 1980s. She talks of hardship, of a mother who died young, and a father sent to reform camp during the Cultural Revolution. Various images of the time – bicycles, TV sets, furniture, facades and smart interiors – culled from photos that were flea market finds, brochures, and official documentaries, dance across the screen. Still photographs are made to move and moving pictures are slowed to a standstill – an unruly stream of animated images stopping, starting and changing direction, in tandem with the noise of rewinding audio tapes, and music blaring and dying out.


The gaps between the images mirror the gaps in the woman’s testimony, hovering between dream and reality. There are dreams of animals and their violent demise, memories of dozing off in front of the TV, flickering figures from far away, warped by sleep and experience, in a living room akin to a cinema. Which are the images that tell the story of a country? The ones you see or the ones you don’t?


adapted from the 2019 Berlinale catalogue







Preceded by


RECYCLED   照片回收 

China, 2013, digital video, 6 min.

Director: Lei Lei, in collaboration with Thomas Sauvin


Lei Lei chose 3000 photos from a collection of negatives salvaged from a recycling plant on the outskirts of Beijing to create a collage at once dynamic, fragmentary, associative, discursive, and abstract.



HAND COLORED #2   照片手工上色 no.2


China, 2017, digital video, 5 min.

Director: Lei Lei, in collaboration with Thomas Sauvin


“[W]e collected a number of black-and-white photos from Chinese flea markets and imagined that all of them belonged to one fictional Chinese person….as he ventures through time and space.” – Lei Lei







THIS IS NOT A TIME TO LIE   这不是一个可以说谎的时刻

China, 2013, digital video, 4 min.

Director: Lei Lei


“I’m scared, I don’t dare to look ahead.
This is not a time to lie.” – Lei Lei












China, 2017, digital video, 8 min.

Director: Lei Lei


“The cutout patterns are from my father’s book, Book Cover Collection in the West, which was published in 1988, when Chinese leaders launched their great ‘reform’ and ‘opening up’ to embrace the world.” – Lei Lei
















TRT: 91 min.



In person: Lei Lei






Lei Lei (b. 1985) graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master’s in Animation in 2009. Since then, he has worked as an independent animator and as an artist involved in video art, painting, installation, music and performance. His animated shorts have been showcased at premier animation festivals such as Annecy and the Holland International Animation Film Festival. His first feature-length film, Breathless Animals, premiered at the Berlinale Forum in 2019.


His work has also been exhibited throughout East Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia, and he has completed several artist residencies, including Yaddo, the Asian Cultural Council Cai fellowship, the Artist Residency Program at Abbaye de Fontevraud in France, the Locarno Summer Academy, and the MacDowell fellowship.


Lei Lei lives and works in Beijing and Los Angeles. Since 2017, he has been a faculty member in the Experimental Animation Program at the California institute of the Arts.






Tickets: $9 REDCAT members, $12 general. To purchase tickets: call (213) 237-2800, visit the REDCAT event page , or purchase at box office starting 2 hours before showtime.

Venue: REDCAT, 631 West 2nd St. (corner of 2nd and Hope St., inside the Disney Hall complex) in DTLA.

Parking: $5 after 8 PM in the Disney Hall parking structure. Enter at 2nd St.

Information: REDCAT event page



This event is curated by China Onscreen, Bérénice Reynaud and Steve Anker as part of REDCAT’s Jack H. Skirball Screening Series, and is funded in part by the UCLA Confucius Institute and the Ostrovsky Family Fund, with special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.




China Onscreen