Sat, Dec 11, 2004 - Page 13 News List

The 4th Taiwan International Documentary Festival: And now for documentaries

The 4th Taiwan InternationalDocumentaryFestival will featurea week's worthof groundbreaking films fromaround the world

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Train Stop.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TIDF

The 4th Taiwan International Documentary Festival (台灣國際紀錄片雙年展) begins today and runs until Dec. 17, screening a slate of 122 films from around the world.

For film-goers, the festival will be a rich experience, with a diverse selection of films and the inclusion for almost each of the competition screenings of a question and answer session with the filmmakers. What's more, tickets cost only NT$10 per screening.

The program for the 122 films has been divided into two major categories: the competition section and the exhibition section. This year, the 70 films in competition were selected from among 1,000 entries, according to Wang Pai-zhang (王派彰), the festival's program director.

Special to this year's selection of films is the significantly high number of films that look at Israeli-Palestinian relations, as well as the number of controversial and unconventional films that challenge pre-set ideas about documentary.

"We try to incorporate films from the two extremes of the documentary spectrum -- the traditional documentaries and the innovative ones, in terms of film styles," Wang said.

In the section about Israeli-Palestinian relations, there is the selection of 10 films, six of them by Israeli filmmakers and four by Palestinians. Amos Gitai, the Israel-based filmmaker who started filming Israel-Palestine issues in 1980, chooses to look at the problem by presenting the view of the other side -- the views and lives of Palestinian residents. The section will showcase six of this frequent award winner's films.

There are also films about fierce battles and angry accusations against the Israeli army. Jenin ... Jenin is a shocking film about the April, 2002, Israeli advance into the Palestinian city of Jenin. The operation ended with Jenin flattened and scores of Palestinians dead.

"The reason we showcase more films about Israel-Palestine relations is that we find it similar to cross-strait relations. We hope that, by showing the films, people can realize the wall or border in their hearts that is created if they do not diminish hatred toward each other," Wang said.

"The Right to Intervene" section of the festival will show the most conventional documentary styles, that is, a realistic style and a mission to tell the truth, to communicate a message or change society. Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, a documentary about the writer and philosopher, is, so far, the most popular film in this section. All tickets are sold out for the film, but there may be additional screenings to be announced.

In this section there is also the film Control Room, which documents what happened in the control room of al-Jazeera news network in the lead-up to and during the US-led invasion of Iraq last year.

"Death, Be Not Proud" is a section where documentary makers focus their concerns on the very private and universal experience of death. The movies in the section look squarely at taboos and are definitely very controversial. There is a film titled Modesty and Shame by writer/filmmaker Herve Buibert filmed a few weeks before his death of AIDS. Another film, by Naomi Kawasa titled Letter From a Yellow Cherry Blossom, has the director filming her best friend at his deathbed. Torn Skin looks not at human death but that of sharks through the eyes of the fishermen who catch the fish.

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