Some of the finest noses in the French wine world are snorting into their decanters over a new film which claims they are complicit in the American-led homogenization of world tastes and the steady destruction of France's centuries-old tradition of "terroir." \nMondovino, a low-budget documentary by American sommelier-turned-filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter, has been a surprise hit at the box office since it opened last month -- pulling in some 200,000 viewers -- but the reaction among many in the wine-making establishment has been as sour as a corked bottle of chateau plonk. \n"The most hacked off are the people with a great deal of power in the wine world: magazines that are hand-in-glove with the big Bordeaux dealers; multinationals with advertising and marketing clout. These people are very unhappy," according to Nossiter, who spent three years touring the world to make his two-and-a-quarter-hour sitrep on the state of the industry. \n"There are some very powerful people who have done all that they can to censure the film. We have had a lot of libel threats -- which we are ignoring," he said in an interview. \nSetting out to "take the pulse" of the international wine business, Nossiter uses it as a metaphor for larger issues of globalization and the defense of local particularity against the standardization wrought by mass commerce. \nTravelling with a small digital camera, he speaks to Argentinian peasants, magnates in California's Napa valley, Tuscan aristocrats, Burgundian small-holders and a host of experts, oenologists, dealers, auctioneers and critics. \nThe result -- which opens in Britain this week and the US early next year -- is a tolerant and often humorous film that is a thousand miles from the invective of a polemicist like Michael Moore. \nHowever, at root the message is not so different: that power has become concentrated in the hands of a few multi-national producers, who with the help of ultra-influential critics such as the ubiquitous Robert Parker are flooding the market with Identikit variety-based vintages that are as bland as they are easy to sell. \nIn France -- where wine is close to a national religion -- the surprise has been that the bogeymen are not all Yankee carpetbaggers, but come in more familiar guises. \nThe closest the film gets to a true villain is the renowned French consultant Michel Rolland, who is seen being chauffeur-driven around the Bordeaux vineyards offering the same advice over and again to anxious clients: "la micro-oxygenation." \nElsewhere the head of wine at the London auction house Christies notes how the classic Chateau Kirwan found overnight success when it hired Rolland's services to develop the wine. "Its taste became global. It's no more Margaux than [top-selling US wine] Opus One ... but it's selling. So what the hell can you say," Michael Broadbent exclaims. \nRolland was not amused at his portrayal, complaining to Liberation newspaper that he was misrepresented as a "dictator of consulting" and accusing Nossiter of basing his film on a "simplistic intellectual-sociological-ecological ideology." \nFor others, Nossiter is guilty of over-romanticizing the notion of "terroir" -- the basis for France's appellation system of labeling -- according to which each wine-growing area has a specific character nurtured since Gallo-Roman times. \nThe centerpiece of the film is an attempt by the Californian conglomerate Mondavi to buy a large piece of realestate at Aniane in the vineyards of Languedoc. \nThe bid fails thanks to the opposition of local growers such as Aime Guibert who is seen proclaiming, "Wine is dead!" But it then transpires the land has been sold off to the French actor Gerard Depardieu and his multi-millionaire partner, wine-dealer Bernard Magrez. \nAs Aniane's former mayor complains: "Mondavi, Depardieu -- I can't see the difference!" \nFor others, including the legendary Parker himself who is interviewed surrounded by farting bulldogs at his Maryland home, it was precisely the obscurity and corruption linked to the appellation system that made a new way of judging wine inevitable. And if people like the wine he chooses -- that is hardly his fault. \nAccording to Nossiter, who worked on Fatal Attraction and more recently won best film at the Sundance festival with Sunday, his depiction of the wine business is a mirror on the world as a whole. \n"What is happening in wine is happening to you," he says. \n"Wine is an expression of civilization, but it is also an expression of power. It was the Romans who introduced wine to the Mediterranean basin, and for them it was part of their mission to civilize. If you'd made a film about wine in Roman times it would have painted a very revealing picture. \n"Today the picture is paradoxical. On the one hand never have so many people taken seriously the notion that their place of origin and identity have meaning and are worth preserving. And yet never has the world been under such threat from the forces of homogenization."
Tobie Openshaw is confident that Taiwan’s government has good reasons for not including him in the Triple Stimulus Voucher Program, which launched at the beginning of this month. That’s just as well, because it seems unlikely he’ll ever discover the logic by which it was decided that he, along with other foreign residents not currently married to Taiwan citizens, shouldn’t receive the vouchers. “We’ve stood side-by-side with our Taiwanese friends through the COVID-19 crisis, complying with government measures, cheering its success and sharing that news with the world at large. If the stimulus coupons are meant to be spent to keep
When the BBC approached Caroline Chia (查慧中) in July 2018, and asked her to make arrangements so a documentary-making team could gather footage showing how global warming may be increasing typhoon intensity, she delivered everything that was in her power to provide. Chia got permission for the BBC crew to shoot inside the Central Emergency Operation Center, film the army’s disaster-relief efforts and follow mayors around as they supervised the cleaning up. “In total, it was about one week of work for my cousin — who’s my business partner — and I,” recalls Chia, who was born in Taipei but
John Thomson was a pioneering photographer in the 19th century and one of the first to journey to East Asia. In 1871, while in China he met Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell, a fellow Scotsman who was returning to Taiwan, where he served as a Presbyterian missionary. Maxwell’s description of Taiwan intrigued Thomson, and the photographer decided to accompany Maxwell to the island then known to Westerners as Formosa. Disembarking at Takow (today’s Kaohsiung) on April 2, 1871, Thomson brought with him the best photography equipment of his time, along with thousands of glass plates — an estimated 200kg of equipment. The
Taiwan’s artist community was outraged when the authorities banned Lee Shih-chiao’s (李石樵) Reclining Nude (橫臥裸婦) from the 1936 Taiyang Art Exhibition (台陽美術展覽會). The Taiwan Daily News (台灣日日新報) reported that after hours of deliberation, the officials censored the piece for “contravening public morals.” Although the government did have rules on publicly displaying nude art, the state-run Taiwan Fine Art Exhibition regularly featured naked women, allowing more revealing pieces each year. On the same page, the newspaper ran a scathing criticism of the decision by an anonymous artist. “This is completely laughable … If they really thought [Reclining Nude] contravened public morals, they