For film buffs and art-house moviegoers, the following two weeks promise a busy but exciting time as the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬國際影展, TGHFF) brings the works of cinematic greats such as Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Loach, Jan Svankmajer, and Pedro Almodovar to the island. Even though genre-specific films, such as animation, documentary and women's cinema have been left to the burgeoning special interest film festivals that have mushroomed around the island, TGHFF has cast its net wide.
While the presence of films such as Ken Loach's Cannes-winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Almodovar's Volver starring Penelope Cruz guarantee full-house screenings, theme-oriented programs on homosexuality, music and subversive sex target the diverse tastes of younger audiences.
Apart from mainstream programs, hardcore film buffs may find some challenges with the works of less accessible art-house figures such as Matthew Barney, one of this year's directors in focus, and the obscure French filmmaker Philippe Garrel.
An inter-media artist working with film, video installations, photography, sculpture and body art, San Francisco-born Barney took the American art world by storm with his peculiar use of the athletic for aesthetic ends. His filmic works are highlighted in shows at fine arts museums and his distinctive neo-baroque visual style has influenced Hollywood cinema, most notably in films such as The Cell.
The five-part Cremaster Cycle is Barney's best-known work, which contains visually astonishing spectacles that defy easy explanation. The artist' debuted feature-length film, Drawing Restraint 9, is the latest installation of the long-running series of Drawing Restraint projects that involved the athletic artist wearing restraining apparatuses while drawing. In the film, the 39-year-old artist and his real-life partner Bjork indulge in surreal fantasies, such as being two accidental guests on a Japanese whaling ship.
What: Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2006 (2006台北金馬國際影展)Where: Shin Kong Cineplex (新光影城), 4F, 36 Xining S Rd, Taipei (台北市西寧南路36號4樓)When: Today through Nov. 24Tickets: NT$230 and NT$200 for students, available through ERA ticketing outlets or at www.ticket.com.twOn the Net: www.goldenhorse.org.tw
A figure between the Nouvelle Vague and post-Nouvelle Vague generations, Garrel stands out as an archetypal romantic and rebellious poet. A child of the 1968 French student movement, Garrel had a 10-year relationship with the German chanteuse Nico of Velvet Underground fame, which ended in 1979. When the era of love and revolution ended, the director moved into a more narrative cinema, creating a body of autobiographic films haunted by the recurrent themes of lost love and the lost youthful dreams of 1968.
Mostly shot in black and white — as the director believes colors manipulate audiences with their emotional noise — Garrel's meditative works represent cinema in its purest state and have earned him public admiration from the hard-to-please living legend Godard. Garrel's early hermetic vision can be seen in The Inner Scar (1972) starring Nico and himself. In his latest award-winning film, Regular Lovers, the film poet revisits 1968 Paris through his actor son Louise Garrel.
Another special feature in this year's lineup is the New Crowned Hope: Mozart Year. This was originally a film, music and architecture project conceived by US director Peter Sellars, and has become part of Austria's series of celebrations for the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.
The program includes the works of six directors who were invited to make contemporary interpretations on Mozart's art. Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) returns to his homeland Malaysia in search of a new definition of Mozart's spirit of freedom in I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (黑眼圈). Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the fast-rising star from Thailand, again pushes through the limits of narration, portraying a mystical landscape of memory in Syndromes and a Century.