The Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival's (TGHFF, 台北金馬影展) young and rebellious spirit is indefatigable. This year's themes focus on value-defying and uncompromising works by and about iconoclasts such as Bob Dylan, Marlon Brando, Wim Wenders and John Waters.
Todd Haynes' award-winning I'm Not There is the only biographical movie Dylan has authorized. In an unconventional twist, six actors including Cate Blanchett play the ever-elusive rebel at different stages in his life.
Women rebels in Iran fight for their right to attend sports matches in Offside, which won an award at the Berlin International Film Festival and was directed by Jafar Panahi. Paris-based Iranian artist Marjane Satrapi exemplifies the rising power of women in the Middle East with her animated work Persepolis. Based on her graphic autobiographical novel of the same title, the film won awards at the Cannes Film Festival.
This year's festival also picks up on recent international enthusiasm for Romanian New Wave cinema. Several of the movement's important works will screen. Chief among them are Cristian Mungiu's directorial debut West, a black comedy about young people eager to emigrate from the former Communist country, shorts Marilena de la P7 and C Block Story and California Dreamin', the first and last feature by Cristian Nemescu who was killed in a car accident last year.
Winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival Mungiu's, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is an eloquent testimony to the resurgence of Romanian cinema. While the Chinese-language and Iranian film industries were the center of attention in the 1990s, the new EU member state is now perceived as a hothouse for talented filmmakers. For those who want to know more about the rising star, Mungiu will give a lecture and attend a panel discussion as part of the festival.
Looking back at the history of Romanian cinema, there will be a retrospective program on Lucian Pintilie, who began his directing career in 1960s and whose works lay bare the social and political predicaments faced by citizens under the Communist regime.
Other films in this year's festival come from Southeast Asia, an area often overlooked by art-house moviegoers who favor Western aesthetics. This year shines the spotlight on new films from Thailand, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. Festival organizers hope to show audiences, filmmakers and producers the region's successful commercial filmmaking, which includes developed technical departments, mature star systems and big capital.
Horror flick The Unseeable, suspense thriller Dead Time: Kala and action-filled The Rebel are examples of Malaysian director Yasmin Ahmad's work. With a nod to indie filmmaking, she tackles the themes of love, religion, sexuality and identity in the multicultural and multiethnic Malaysian society.
There is also a wide selection of hard-to-come-by art house films. Hungarian Bela Tarr's latest work, The Man From London, received polarized reviews at Cannes over his elimination of dramatic elements and indulgence in poetic shots completed with refined mise-en-scene and composition.
Six years after his disturbing feature debut Dog Days, Austrian director Ulrich Seidl takes a precise and poignant look at global migration in Import/Export, told through his improvisational, documentary-style filmmaking.