Taiwan International Children’s Film Festival
Organized by Taiwan’s Public Television Service Foundation, the TICFF, now in its fourth edition, combines films about children, for children, and even a Kids as Directors segment that puts children at the helm. The opening films are Bye-Bye Morakot, a four-part documentary which chronicles the young victims of the typhoon that caused extensive damage in Taiwan in August last year, and Mai Mai Miracle, a Japanese animated story about a child living in Japan’s Heian period. The festival closes with the Asian premiere of Little Nicholas, a French comedy about children that will also be getting a mainstream cinema release after the TICFF ends. In between there’s a huge range of films for every taste; visit www.ticff.org.tw/schedule.html for the full schedule. NT$50 tickets are available through ERA ticketing or at the two screening venues, Eslite Xinyi Store (誠品信義店) and Vie Show Cinema, Xinyi District (信義威秀影城). Runs until Sunday.
Clash of the Titans
In its relentless search for material, Hollywood has rediscovered the treasure trove of Greek mythology and settled on the story of Perseus for this fantasy action adventure starring Sam Worthington as the demigod Perseus,
Ralph Fiennes as Hades, god of the underworld (and
chief villain), and Liam Neeson as Zeus, chief god
of the heavens. The story has been given the full Hollywood treatment, including the belated addition of 3D to some scenes to provide maximum visual bang. It is a remake of the 1981 film of the same name, and the improvements in CGI and other technologies make this version a vast improvement, with the trailer sporting some amazing effects. Depending on one’s taste, this may or may not make up for the overwrought acting and simple-minded plot.
Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard
Luc Bresson, who has both director and writer credits on this children’s adventure animation, enjoys pushing the boundaries of what it means to be commercial. This little franchise began life with Arthur and the Minimoys in 2006, when 10-year-old Arthur discovers a race of cute (if you like glam punk) plastic doll figures, who eventually help him prevent his grandfather’s house being demolished by nefarious real estate interests. This time the Minimoys are in trouble, so Arthur plunges back into his fantasy world to save them. Features an improbable cast of voices that range from Lou Reed and Snoop Dogg to Mia Farrow and Freddie Highmore. A third installment, Arthur and the Two Worlds War, has already had its European release and will doubtless be coming to these shores soon.
Directed by Wong Jing (王晶) and featuring A-list eye candy Barbie Hsu (徐熙媛) and Fan Bing-bing (范冰冰) and starring Andy Lau (劉德華), Future X-Cops is by the standards of Hong Kong cinema a mega-buck prestige release. Even so, some of the costumes manage to look like RoboCop hand-me-downs, and the plot, which features a futuristic super-cop going back in time to save a scientist who could change the world, is not exactly new. Big oil are the bad guys, and they get to use cyborg assassins. And isn’t Lau, who is pushing 50, getting a bit old for these action roles? With the almost simultaneous release of his cop shop comedy romance Beauty on Duty (美麗密令) in China, Director Wong Jin is covering all the bases.
A South Korean documentary by Lee Chung-ryoul that explores the three-cornered relationship between an elderly farmer, his wife and their ox, an ancient creature who has shared their lives for nearly 30 years. The film was intended as a dedication to the rural way of life that is gradually passing away. A favored topic of conversation by the couple is speculating on which of the three will die first. The willingness of the director to linger without sentimentality over the effects of age and long years of backbreaking labor, making of it something akin to happiness, won the film a nomination in the World Cinema category of the Sundance Film Festival.
Warren Hsu (許華仁) sees chocolate making as creating art and performing magic. Zeng Zhi-yuan (曾志元) “talks” to his cacao beans and compares the fermenting process to devotedly caring for a child. Despite their different products and business models, the two helped put Taiwanese chocolate on the map in 2018 at the prestigious International Chocolate Awards’ (ICA) World Finals when Hsu’s Fu Wan Chocolate (福灣) claimed two golds, five silvers and two bronzes, while Zeng took home four golds. That year, Taiwanese chocolatiers burst through the gates with a total of 26 medals, an impressive feat given that many locals don’t
Chen Zhiwu (陳志武) says that the COVID-19 crisis puts into sharp focus that we are in a new cold war, with China and the US being the two protagonists. “It’s almost literally in front of us,” says Chen, Director of Asia Global Institute and Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Hong Kong. Political observers were hesitant, Chen says, even up to the beginning of this year, to confirm a new cold war was underway. “But ... the coronavirus has made clear the clash in values and way of life between what China would like to pursue, and what
For tourists visiting Hualien, Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園) is the first order of business. But if you find yourself in the city with half a day to spare — your train back to Taipei will leave mid-afternoon, say — it’s hardly worth busing out to Taroko Gorge. Instead, borrow or rent a bicycle or a scooter, or hail a cab, and set out for one of these attractions. At only one of these places is there an admission charge. CISINGTAN SCENIC AREA A literal translation of Cisingtan (七星潭) would be “Seven Stars Pond,” but there’s no pond here, just the vast Pacific
To bring sustainability and prosperity to their farms, some agriculturalists in southern Taiwan have embraced innovative types of companion planting. In contrast to the monoculture that dominates much of the rich world’s farmland, companion planting is the cultivation of different crops in proximity, usually to optimize the space, for pest control or to enhance pollination. The symbiotic relationship between cacao trees and betel nut, which may be unique to Pingtung County, is striking when one visits the cacao plantations maintained by Choose Chius (邱氏可可) and Wugawan (牛角灣) in Neipu (內埔). The history of growing cacao in Taiwan goes back to Japanese colonial