Bend or Break

Two playful pandas demonstrate how to best survive earthquakes in this happy story about the importance of using reinforced structures in earthquake-prone areas.

Bend or Break is an animated short about being prepared for natural disasters, and being aware that non-reinforced buildings can easily collapse. The short is scheduled to be included in the upcoming feature film The Sichuan Hard Road, a documentary that explores the human impact of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.

Pandas bears are featured in the short because the action takes place in the highly-seismic province of Sichuan in the southwest of China. Pandas are native to the region and typically feed on bamboo. They show that flexible structures such as bamboo can BEND during earthquakes while non-reinforeced rigid structures such as brick can BREAK. The light tone of the storytelling makes it easy to understand the technical aspects of structural reinforcement in buildings and dwellings.


Bend or Break is an animated short directed by Isaac Kerlow
Produced by Tropical Fantasy in collaboration with the China Earthquake Administration and the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
Total running time: 2m 30s, color
Voice-Over: English and Chinese original versions
Subtitles available: English, Chinese, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Film Completed: October 2019


Screenings and Awards

Bend or Break was scheduled to premiere at the 2020 Beverly Hills Film Festival Festival in Los Angeles, California, but the festival was postponed due to the pandemic. All listings are Official Selections unless otherwise noted.

December 2021
New York Animation Film Awards, New York City, Finalist

February 2021
IndieFest Film Awards, La Jolla, California, Award of Merit

November 2020
Vienna Science Film Festival, Vienna, Austria

October 2020
Imagine Science Film Festival, New York
Raw Science Film Festival, Los Angeles, California, Winner Jury Award Animation

August 2020
Rural FilmFest, Ciudad Real, Spain

June 2020
Bristol Science Film Festival, Bristol, England

April 2020
Beverly Hills Film Festival Festival World Premiere, Los Angeles, California
(Festival postponed due to COVID-19)


Written and Directed by Isaac Kerlow
English Narration by Lim Yu-Beng
Chinese Narration by Liu Yang
Artwork and Animation: Wang Rui Fan
Music: Sergio Moure
Additional animation: Nguyen Thi Nam Phuong and Isaac Kerlow
Voice-Over Recording: Damian Wadell
Editing: Isaac Kerlow
Audio Remix: Gabriel Serrano
Produced by Isaac Kerlow
Voice-Over Production Coordination: Karen Lee
Special Thanks: Private Donors, Soundsnap, China Earthquake Administration, Earth Observatory of Singapore, National Research Foundation, Ministry of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Ke Yi Xiao Productions