The animation is a warm and touching story about an elderly person who is actually Santa Claus. But nobody in the indifferent and fast-paced community of Hong Kong recognises his true identity. The film deals with social problems such as the plight of the elderly.
Although Chan has won many awards over the past 10 years, he does not regard them as the most valuable things he has gained from entering competitions. “Receiving comments from the judges and having exchanges [with other animators] is more important than getting prize money and the fame brought by the awards.”
Recently, Chan has focused more on offering emotional and spiritual support to Hong Kong people through his animations.
“Buying lots of handbags and earning a lot of money is not going to bring you spiritual satisfaction. If you are rich, you may be afraid that someone will steal your money,” says Chan. “But listening to music, appreciating art or reading comics may make you feel less alone.”
It was in this spirit that Chan created the character of Din-Dong during the financial tsunami in 2008.
Din-Dong, a pastiche of the classic Japanese cartoon character Doraemon, is a cat that goes crazy during the financial tsunami. He does not have any money but he transforms the unremarkable things he finds lying around into useful objects. He inspires the belief in those around him that with a bit of imagination they can still make new friends and date girls, even if they are penniless.
The inspiration for Din-Dong came from a stray cat which Chan and his wife later adopted. “We thought everyone was unhappy at that time, the whole community was shrouded by negative energy, but the cat was not affected by the people and remained very happy… So I thought to myself, ‘why?’”
Chan wanted to tell people that they can still live happily even if they are not well-off in material terms.
At present, Chan is thinking of more new stories to spread a positive way of thinking, not just in Hong Kong but also further afield. “Actually every place needs this kind of positive energy!” he says.