Fri, Jun 10, 2005 - Page 17 News List

Taipei Film Festival a good omen for the film industry

The Taipei Film Festival showcases movies from Taiwan's independent scene and the Chinese diaspora

By Tayi Lee  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Recently there has been much talk of the decline of Taiwan's movie industry. It may be hard to deny, considering that Taiwan produced less than 20 feature films last year. However, Taiwan's film festival scene is on the upswing: This year there are 193 films competing in the Taipei Film Festival's Taipei Grand Award competition, 50 more than last year.

In addition to bringing some of the best films from all over the world, Taipei Film Festival encourages local independent filmmaking. The competition includes all categories of film -- short and long feature, documentary, animation and experimental -- and offers a cash prize of NT$1 million to the winner, the biggest Taiwanese movie award.

"We want to become the most important channel for global Chinese films and videos. Anyone interested in seeing global Chinese films should come to Taipei, in the same way as the Pusan Film Festival [in South Korea] attracts foreigners to see Asian films," said festival organizer Wen Tien-shian(聞天祥).

Equality is an ideal of independent filmmaking. No film or director is bigger than any other. Thus, among the Taipei Grand Award entrees you can find the world-famous director Tsai Ming-liang's (蔡明亮) controversial The Wayward Cloud as well as the TV director-turned-filmmaker Tsao Jui-yuan's (曹瑞原) debut film, Love's Lone Flower. The former relates the story of an adult-movie actor wandering through a city looking for love, while the latter is an epic romantic drama tracing the life of a lesbian who makes her living in pornography.

For those who want a glimpse of Taiwanese life outside the city, the documentaries Let It Be, Plan of Regeneration and Jump! Boys provide alternative images of Taiwan. Since Taiwan joined the WTO, Taiwanese farms have been fighting for survival. Let It Be traces the rice planters' struggle against, this time not nature, but the gigantic state machine beyond their comprehension. This agricultural elegy captures the beauty of Taiwanese village life.

Plan of Regeneration documents a labor-union movement while Jump! Boys narrates a story of boy gymnasts that will bring both tears and smiles.

The range and the depth of the Chinese diaspora filmmakers' works selected in the Global Chinese Films and Videos section reveal the talents and diversity of this widespread community

Letter to Ali, a film by Clara Law (羅卓瑤), a director who emigrated from Hong Kong to Australia, is a journey exploring the issue of an immigrant's national identity. The film's sensitive female touch becomes more interesting when it is juxtaposed with Yang Ban Xi -- The 8 Model Works, a film by another young Hong Kong female director living in the Netherlands, Yuen Yan-ting (袁欣婷). It examines the residue of the Cultural Revolution experience with humor and close analysis through Yang Ban Xi (樣板戲), a Chinese opera reworked to sing the praise of Mao's revolutionary spirit.

Many fascinating works by young filmmakers will be included in the festival. These filmmakers could be the undercurrent of the next Taiwanese new wave. Several will hold a question-and-answer session after the screenings, so don't miss this wonderful chance to meet a new generation of Chinese filmmakers from all over the world.

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