Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023: Star Wars Visions Volume 2

Following the success of Star Wars Visions on Disney+ in the fall of 2021, Lucasfilm decided to continue the animation banner with additional tales. At Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023, the Star Wars Visions Volume 2 panel revealed the creators and their studios along with the titles and artistic samples from each of the new animated shorts. Before hearing from each creator in turn, host Amy Ratcliffe began the panel with a conversation with Lucasfilm executive James Waugh, Jacqui Lopez, and Josh Rimes.

Waugh praised the Star Wars Visions shorts as “a celebration of Star Wars from unique cultural perspectives.” Describing Volume 1’s shorts, Waugh elaborated:

“The thing that really made it all work was the storytelling perspectives that could only come from the Japanese community. … Each of these creators were telling a specific take of Star Wars that really could only come from growing up in Japan, and then seeing what Star Wars meant to them in their culture was slightly nuanced and different.”

During the development of Volume 1, he explained, they realized “what else could we get from around the globe? … We really felt like, let’s see other cultural perspectives. What are different countries’ takes on Star Wars?” Accordingly, Volume 2 presents animated shorts from around the world, including Europe (Spain, Ireland, U.K., and France), South America (Chile), South Asia (India), East Asia (South Korea), and one multi-national team (U.S. and Japan).

Each creator then shared a brief description of their short, including their inspirations inside and outside Star Wars, their artistic style, and the themes they sought to address. Uniformly, the creators also emphasized the high degree of collaboration put into each short, not only with Lucasfilm but also within the development and production teams at each studio. Throughout the conversations, it became obvious how the themes and values of Star Wars resonate and inspire around the world. A few comments are particularly notable from our perspective at FANgirl Blog in evaluating and critiquing Star Wars storytelling.

Magdalena Osinka from Aardman found inspiration in a familiar theme in Star Wars, but shifted its perspective:

“When I sat down to write the original pitch outline, I questioned myself, what do I love about Star Wars the most? I love the incredible worlds and creatures and fascinating politics, but what really drew me in was the relationships. Of course the relationship between father and son had been explored in Star Wars. We all know the iconic line, ‘I am your father.’ Because I’m a mother myself, to a six-year-old, I analyze myself constantly as a mom. Whether I’m good enough, that kind of stuff, and I think about my mom a lot, who is here in the audience with us. So I wanted to make a film about a mother-daughter relationship, and motherhood in general. But I wanted to have a bit more positive spin than the original inspiration of Darth Vader and Luke. … I really wanted this film to be a love letter to all the mothers because I think quite often they are overlooked in films, and I think they are the real superheroes.”

The panel ended with a surprise screening of Aardman’s short. Afterward, Tricia tweeted: “We got to see ‘I Am Your Mother’ and it was a love letter to anyone who has asked to see more mothers alive and with agency in Star Wars.”

Gabriel Osorio of PunkRobot was inspired to use the Star Wars galaxy as a mirror to reflect upon a real-world atrocity in his native country:

“Our short is about two sisters who lost everything – their people, their family – because of an Imperial invasion. The inspiration for this story came from a real story, that for us as Latin Americans and Chileans, is really a very important story and sadly it’s very unknown. During the early 1900s, in the far south of the country in what now is known as Patagonia, a large part of the original inhabitants were killed by the colonists. This happened less than a hundred years ago. This is recent history for us. In spite of this, this is still not a very well-known part of our own history by the vast majority of Chileans and Latin Americans. This is why I felt a big responsibility to tell a story that reflected on the resistance and on the resilience and all the injustice that the original nations of Patagonia had to endure. And we felt that the Star Wars universe was the perfect place to tell this story.”

You can read here about a 2022 Chilean court judgment condemning crimes against humanity in the 1924 the Napalpi Massacre of indigenous communities.

Similarly, Julien Chheng from Studio La Cachette drew connections between elements of Star Wars lore and real world heroism:

“Our main character is indeed a dancer. She’s been performing in her cabaret ever since the Empire invaded her planet. We wanted to pay tribute to these side characters in the Star Wars universe, like Jabba’s dancers that made the universe so rich and vivid. Also we got our inspiration from World War II in France, where you could find those famous dancers such as Mata Hari or Josephine Baker performing in front of the soldiers. And actually in those places they would gather information, secrets whispered by the officers. They were totally spies for the French Resistance. So our main character in our short is very much in this line of very strong female figures that eventually helped even change the tides of the war.”

The multi-national short has a particularly interesting origin. Writer LeAndre Thomas is a Lucasfilm employee. Joining him onstage was Arthell Isom, co-founder of D’Art Shtajio, an American-owned animation studio based in Tokyo. Thomas described his inspiration to write and develop “The Pit”:

“The idea actually started during the height of the pandemic. At the time that was obviously very difficult for everyone around the world. It was a time of civil unrest. I remember seeing people at protests with signs that had Princess Leia’s face on it, and it said Rebel or Resist on it. It reminded me that Star Wars clearly is inspirational to people all over the world. But sometimes I think that people forget that Star Wars was inspired by the world. With that in mind, the idea really stemmed from this feeling I had, which was: some of us, it feels like we’re just in this pit, being pushed deeper and deeper while others are ascending higher and higher. To me, Star Wars at its core is about those themes. It’s about rebellions and empires, oppression and hope.”

Thomas thanked his co-workers at Lucasfilm for their support in helping his short become a reality. Athena Portillo, who is an executive producer on “The Pit,” helped scout animation studios, which led them to D’Art Shtajio as an ideal partner for the project. Thomas also thanked Dave Filoni, explaining that “He worked very early on with me.  … He was a very good mentor to me. I like to think of it as a master and apprentice relationship. It was huge. And when we weren’t talking about production, we were just nerding out and talking about Star Wars and movies.”

Watch the Star Wars Visions Volume 2 Trailer:

You can watch Star Wars Visions Volume 2 panel as part of the Day Four livestream from Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023. The panel begins at 2:15:45 in the YouTube archived video of the livestream.

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B.J. Priester has been a Star Wars fan since he played with the original Kenner action figures as a young boy. His fandom passion returned after watching Attack of the Clones in 2002 and reading the entire New Jedi Order series in 2003. He voraciously caught up on the novels and comics in the Expanded Universe in addition to writing fanfiction, frequently co-authoring with Tricia. B.J. has served as editor of FANgirl Blog from its inception, as well as contributing reviews and posts on a range of topics. He edited Tricia’s novel Wynde, and is collaborating with her on several future projects set in that original universe. Currently a tenured law professor in Florida, B.J. has been a practicing lawyer in Washington, D.C., a law clerk to a federal appeals court judge, and a law journal editor-in-chief. He is also a proud geek dad whose son who is a big fan of Star Wars and The Clone Wars.

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