Watch: Alexa Lim Haas’s Award-Winning Animated Short, Agua Viva
New York-based animator Alexa Lim Haas made Filmmaker‘s 25 New Faces list in 2017 while her lovely short Agua Viva was still in post. With the film appearing on Vimeo this week, where it received a Staff Pick, now both we and all of you can experience it in its fully-inked glory. Agua Viva, which depicts the inner life of an immigrant Chinese nail salon worker in Miami, premiered at Sundance and Rotterdam this year and won jury prizes at SXSW and Dallas. It received quite a bit of support, including the Borscht Corp’s #NoBroZone Grant, the Time Warner 1st Generation Filmmaker Grant from OneFifty, and support from LOU, The Knight Foundation, Art Center South Florida and Rooftop Films.
Wrote Taylor Hess in the Filmmaker profile:
With beautiful, emotionally resonant line drawings, Agua Viva captures the loneliness of a nameless Chinese manicurist working in a Miami salon. While working on the nails of her clients, she allows her mind to drift, obsessing over her own body image, thinking about jellyfish and recognizing to herself the limits of her limited English. After a client comments on the intimacy of a bikini wax, the manicurist has to look up the word. “Sometimes I feel I have no words at all,” she says. “My meaning is always lost. Are there words in the language for such a feeling?”
Lim Haas developed her script from 10 pages of Twitter-sized thoughts she intended to post but saved as drafts instead, written mostly during five research manicures and while accompanying friends to their own appointments. “I was just trying to be in tune with how I felt while being touched by a stranger,” Lim Haas says.