Fri, Apr 15, 2011 - Page 17 News List

Movie review: Everlasting Moments

Mostly shot in Aboriginal villages and using locals who speak tribal languages as actors, Chen Wen-pin’s feature debut explores lives torn between tradition and modern society

By Ho Yi  /  Staff Reporter

Director Chen Wen-pin on the set.

Photo Courtesy of Chen Wen-pin

Chen Wen-pin (陳文彬) weaves together ancient Atayal (泰雅族) tradition and modern-day social issues in his feature debut Everlasting Moments (靈魂的旅程). Shot mostly in Atayal and Pangcah (Amis) villages and casting locals who speak tribal languages, the film places present-day indigenous life in the context of the ancient migration of the Atayal community. The result is an eloquent reflection on the relationship between Aborigines and nature, and how that harmony can be destroyed by the state apparatus.

Documentary footage of Sanying Aboriginal Community (三鶯部落) and the now demolished Sa’owac Aboriginal Community (撒瓦知部落) on the banks of the Dahan River (大漢溪) shows real-life struggles that Aborigines face in a society dominated by Han Chinese.

Having worked as a social activist and a journalist, the 42-year-old Chen is no stranger to the social injustice and discrimination shown in Everlasting Moments. The idea for the film came about when he was asked to make Msgamil: Once Upon a Time (泰雅千年), a short film commissioned by the Shei-pa National Park Headquarters (雪霸國家公園管理處).

Initially, the project focused on gaga, the set of ancient teachings and beliefs that the Atayal pass from one generation to the next. A deeper understanding of Aboriginal life and the relocation issues faced by Sanying, Sijhou (溪洲) and other urban Pangcah (the name the Amis use to refer to themselves) communities, however, prompted the director to expand the short work into a feature-length project in order to “rethink the relationship between humanity and nature.”

Chen spent more than a year traveling through most of the country’s Atayal communities before deciding to shoot the film in the villages of Singuang (新光) and Cinsbu (鎮西堡) in Hsinchu County, where he says the loss of the Atayal language and culture are less severe than in other places.

Film Notes

Everlasting Moments

靈魂的旅程

DIRECTED BY: Chen Wen-pin (陳文彬)

STARRING: Yuraw Yukan (尤勞尤幹) as Buda and Taqun, Lin Yung-heng (林永恆) as Yukan

RUNNING TIME:70 Minutes

LANGUAGE: Atayal, Pangcah (Amis) and Mandarin with Chinese and English subtitles

TAIWAN RELEASE: Today


For the set, traditional Atayal structures were built by local residents after discussions with the Han Chinese film crew, and prior to shooting theater veteran Chung Chiao (鍾喬) led workshops to assist villagers — who became actors in the film — in discussing their personal histories and recalling memories “buried inside their bodies.” Several tribal elders worked on the set as language consultants. Chen said that even when the production crew thought that everything was ready, people might not show up because someone had a dream that was interpreted as a bad omen.

“To work with the tribespeople, we had to give up our own ideas and learn to see the world from their perspective,” said Chen, best known for his award-winning performance in No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti (aka Cannot Live Without You, 不能沒有你, 2009).

Chen also drew inspiration for Everlasting Moments from Atayal brothers and musicians Bulang Yukan (不浪尤幹) and Yuraw Yukan (尤勞尤幹), also an actor, whose works include Cheng Wen-tang’s (鄭文堂) Somewhere Over the Dreamland (夢幻部落) and Singing Chen’s (陳芯宜) God Man Dog (流浪神狗人).

Intrigued by the pair’s life stories, the director told his Atayal friends that he would one day write a story about them.

One year later, Bulang Yukan passed away after falling from the stage while performing a concert in China. The Atayal I Don’t Remember (我所遺忘的泰雅), the last work the musician created, can be heard at the end of Chen’s film.

In Everlasting Moments, Yuraw Yukan plays both an ancient chief and a modern Aboriginal official.

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