Writer-Artist Shaun Tan wins an Oscar

Shaun Tan 2008 Taipei International Book Exhibition

Shaun Tan, 2008 (Courtesy: Rico Shen, via Wikipedia, under CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Shaun Tan, whose Eric (an excerpt from Tales from Outer Suburbia) I reviewed here a few months ago, won the Oscar this week for Best Animated Short Film. (Tan shared the prize with British producer, Andrew Ruhemann). This is the third time, I believe, an Australian film has won this category, the previous ones being Adam Elliot‘s Harvie Krumpet and Bruce Petty‘s Leisure, both of which I’ve seen and would happily recommend.

Tan’s film is titled The lost thing, and is based on his 1999 picture book of the same title. Like Eric, it is (to be very simplistic) about difference and, accepting it or not, but unlike Eric it is set in a more dystopian, alien world. I need to see it now, clearly.

Shaun Tan was born in 1974 … he already has a swag of awards to his name. He also has a positive and flexible attitude to sharing his art. In an interview in 2009, he talked about directing The lost thing and its being a close adaptation of the book, and about how with other adaptations, he has said “Do what you want”. I like this, this willingness to be “precious” about some projects but let other things go and see where they are taken:

My approach has always been to remain very open to adaptations of my own work in other media, and trust in the vision of collaborators. This is partly because I see my own imagery as open-ended and ‘unfinished’. (Shaun Tan)

He is a man to watch.

12 thoughts on “Writer-Artist Shaun Tan wins an Oscar

  1. I heard Ruhemann interviewed here in the UK about this and it sounded a fascinating project. I’m just not certain how widely it will be distributed but with luck it will eventually come to one of our smaller but less commercial screens.

    • According to the website there’s a DVD available … over here anyhow. Maybe it can be hired somewhere or it might end up on TV? It’s only 15 minutes I think – so distribution for films like this is a bit tricky.

  2. Gosh, $60! I have a copy of The Arrival at my school and I’m sure I didn’t pay that for it. (I don’t have *any* books that cost that much in my library-on-a-shoestring budget!)
    It’s not a book that appeals to all my students, but some that like it will come in at lunchtime and browse through it over and over again, getting more from it each time they read it.
    I heard Tan speak at a conference last year and he is a most interesting young man. They had a power point behind the table he was sitting at, scrolling through his art work as he spoke. Sensational.

    • No I was astonished – and it was for the paperback it said! The Booko prices went up from there. Maybe you got a special school deal! (As if, she says!)

      It would have been great to see him live. I’ve only listened to a couple of interviews on Slow TV and found him charming. One of them was from the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2009 – and there were images behind him then.

  3. I was very excited to hear about the Oscar win during the week. Much more excited than I was about the various comments attributed to Charlie Sheen for instance. I’m a Shaun Tan fan, and have read many of his books, although I haven’t read all of them- and I haven’t read The Lost Thing (yet, perhaps I’ll look for it at the library tomorrow)- or seen the film. I’m hoping it will appear on the ABC or SBS soon though. I heard him interviewed on RN this week:

    • Thanks for that … I couldn’t get to listen to it now (some connection problem somewhere) so will try later. I’m a bit of a fan too – though I haven’t read much – just because of what seems to be his values and ideas. I’m hoping it will appear too.

  4. I especially like the last quote. That’s evidence of genuine artistry I think… open to collaboration and flexible for adjustments and re-interpretations. I regret that I probably won’t have the chance to view Tan’s work here. Recently I received a tweet to an Atlantic article called ‘Snobbery’ about holding on to one’s own interpretation of a piece of literary work and refusing to see even the best film adaptation of it… despite it’s the 1995 BBC production of P & P. The author of that article should interview Shaun Tan. Thanks for informing us of this wonderful filmmaker/writer/artist.

    Here’s the link to the Atlantic article, in case you might be interested: http://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2011/03/snobbery/71862/

    • Thanks Arti for that link. I read and enjoyed the writer’s perspective … it’s an interesting issue isn’t it? However, I can’t resist seeing adaptations … preferably after I’ve read the book, though there are occasions when a movie appears and I haven’t read the book (or, don’t know it’s a book) and I see it first. In preference I like to see the original form first.

      As for Tan … yes, I love that. I went looking for it as I recollected it and wanted to quote it properly in this post. I’m glad you like it

  5. Pingback: OSCAR SHORTS : And the Winner was – “The Lost Thing” | CaliforniaGermans

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