Though smaller in scale and with much less funding than its northern counterparts, the South Taiwan Film and Video Festival (南方影展), organized by the Tainan National University of the Arts (台南藝術大學), has striven to make both international and local independent films plant roots and flourish in southern Taiwan. Its competition section for local productions, instituted in 2003, brought recognition and fame to documentaries Let It Be (無米樂), Jump! Boys (翻滾吧！男孩) and feature film The Pain of Others (海巡尖兵), the award-winning movie at this year's Taipei International Film Festival.
Film students, as well as young and veteran filmmakers are participating in the competition section, which will feature 26 nominated documentary, feature and animation works this year.
Though only featuring around 20 works, the international lineup also sees several Taiwan premieres including award-winning The Cheese and the Worms, a poetic, personal documentary on the directors' dying mother and Garden, a compelling documentary from Israel telling of the lives of two male gay prostitutes, one Palestinian and the other Arab. Other highlights include this year's Golden Horse nominated film for best feature film and best director awards Crazy Stone (瘋狂的石頭) by Chinese director Ning Hao (寧浩) and experimental documentary Darwin's Nightmare, which depicts a nightmarish picture of how globalization is re-colonizing Africa.
Allocating a large portion of its lineup to promoting Taiwanese films, the event provides a showcase for new local productions, including Do Over (一年之初) and Eternal Summer (盛夏光年). Up-and-coming filmmaker Lin Yu-hsien (林育賢) from Jump! Boys also returns to the south with his highly anticipated debut feature film Exit No. 6 (六號出口), a fantasy adventure about a group of teenagers living in Ximending.
What: 2006 South Taiwan Film and Video Festival (第六屆南方影展)When and Where: Kaohsiung Film Archive (高雄市電影圖書館) and Shih Chuan Theater in Kaohsiung (十全戲院) from today through Nov. 12; Chuan Mei Theater in Tainan (台南市全美戲院) from Nov. 18 to Nov. 26; Hsin Min Elementary School in Tainan County (台南縣新民國小) and Chiayi Performance Arts Center (嘉義縣表演藝術中) on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (國立台灣美術館) in Taichung on Dec. 19Tickets: NT$90 for advance tickets; NT$120 at the door and through NTCH ticketing. Visit www.artsticket.com.twOn the Net: cfma.tnnua.edu.tw/south2006/opening.asp
"Unlike Taipei, audiences in the south don't have that many chances to see Taiwanese films, so our main function is to bridge the gap between local audiences and young directors. Since early last month, we have had touring workshops and discussion panels with invited young directors such as Leste Chen (陳正道), Cheng Yu-chieh (鄭有傑), Ho Wi-ding (何蔚庭) and Lin Yu-hsien to over 10 colleges so that they can share their experience with students and members of general public," festival director Liu Hua-ling (劉華玲) said.
Of the films by a new crop of promising directors, Isaac Li's (李志薔) The Road in the Air (單車上路) will have its Taiwan premiere as the opening film in Kaohsiung. Shot almost entirely on the picturesque Suhua Highway (蘇花公路), the film is said to be Taiwan's first road movie.
Centered on three young fugitives from the harsh realties of life, a teenage delinquent, a deserted police officer and an Aboriginal girl looking for her mother, the coming-of-age film is about the troubled protagonists' personal quest for their inner selves. The first half of the film is an escapist bike trip that quickly turns into a journey on the run after the trio bumps into a Canadian girl backpacker. Mysteries and suspicions ensue, forcing the three to face their personal issues and shed new light on their own lives in a journey of rebirth and renewal.
The breathtaking landscape along the highway is as much of a key character as the well-cast new talents. Going on a bike trip on the highway before shooting, director Li said he wanted to feel the pulse of the land so that he could shoot the film in accordance with the natural environment and its rhythms. Endless dark tunnels, steep cliffs, glittering bays and magnificent mountains bring to life the protagonists' characters.