Year of The Fish is an animated independent feature film that is a modern-day adaptation of Cinderella based on an old Chinese version of the story, written, directed and edited by David Kaplan, and produced by David Kaplan and Rocco Caruso at Funny Cry Happy. It was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs and was the recipient of a 2005 Annenberg Fellowship. Stephanie Wang was the Chinese language and cultural consultant for the film.
The story is a mix of fantasy, romance, and suspense. A young hopeful girl named Ye Xian (An Nguyen) travels alone to New York City to try to make some money for her ailing father back home in China. She falls into the clutches of Mrs. Su (Tsai Chin), who runs a massage parlor in the heart of Chinatown. But Ye Xian refuses to do the requisite sex work for the clients, so she is made into a menial servant who must do all the laundry, cleaning, shopping and cooking – a Cinderella. However, she finds solace in a magical fish given to her by the strange hunchback Auntie Yaga (Randall Duk Kim) and in her fleeting, tender encounters with Johnny (Ken Leung), a local jazz musician.
The film features a first-rate Asian ensemble cast including Tsai Chin (The Joy Luck Club), acclaimed Broadway veteran Randall Duk Kim (The Matrix Reloaded), Ken Leung (X-Men 3, Rush Hour) and introduces An Nguyen as Ye Xian.
The animation was created with an advanced algorithmic digital painting technology to achieve a living, fluctuating painterly look. The aesthetic effect is totally unique, less like a graphic novel and more like a painting brought to life.
“IMAGINATION, CHARM… FANTASTICAL DELIGHTS” – Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times.
“Appears to have leapt directly from a painted Chinese screen onto the silver screen.” – Bob Mondello, NPR.
Sundance Film Festival, 2007
Avignon Film Festival, 2007. Winner: Best Film
Asheville Film Festival, 2007. Winner: Best Film
Independent Film Festival of Boston, 2007. Winner: Audience Award
Independent Spirit Awards, 2009. Nominated for the Piaget Producers Award
Content copyrighted by David Kaplan