Urbanites in Taipei have long been used to having a plethora of film festivals almost year-round, leaving little reason to travel outside the capital to see a good movie. That may change, however, when the first edition of Kavalan International Short Film Festival opens in Yilan this weekend. Billed as the country’s first comprehensive, international showcase for short films, the event features an exciting lineup of more than 120 works divided into 10 sections, including rarely screened shorts by David Lynch.
Following in the wake of the now-defunct Yilan Green International Festival (宜蘭國際綠色影展) and Yilan International Children’s Film Festival (宜蘭國際兒童電影節), the Yilan County Government-sponsored event retains much of the environmentally friendly spirit and emphasis on wholesome family entertainment of its predecessors, while attempting to expose local audiences to quirky, unconventional films they might not normally see.
“We want to bring something different, less aimed at a general audience and less readily understandable,” festival curator Mike Chang (張全琛) said.
The festival organizers’ predilection for the unusual is evident in the selection of six short films by Lynch. Among his early works, The Grandmother, made in 1970 by the then 24-year-old American filmmaker, is brimming with the surreal sensibility and mystic tone that later became his signature. The short tells the story of a boy who tries to escape his abusive parents by growing a grandmother in his bedroom.
Fast-forward to the 21st century: David O’Reilly from Ireland has emerged as a formidable new talent whose animated works are influenced by video games and the Internet. The 26-year-old animator’s Berlin-winning Please Say Something (2009) uses primitive designs and only 10 minutes to build a profound fable of love in which a cat and a mouse are caught in a relationship with each other that spans 50 years. His whimsically dark and occasionally funny The External World (2010) is made up of fleeting episodes portraying a world of sex, violence and fear.
What: Kavalan International Short Film Festival (噶瑪蘭國際短片節)
When: Tomorrow through Aug. 28
Where: Yilan Performing Arts Center (宜蘭演藝廳), 482, Jhongshan Rd Sec 2, Yilan City (宜蘭市中山路二段482號) and National Lo-Tung Senior High School Performance Hall (國立羅東高中演藝廳), 324 Gongjheng Rd, Luodong Township, Yilan County (宜蘭縣羅東鎮公正路324號)
Admission: NT$50 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
On The Net: www.kisff.tw
In tune with the long tradition of puppetry in Yilan, the festival has put together a complete retrospective collection of 10 short films by Japanese animation maestro Kihachiro Kawamoto, who is noted for puppet animation that uses elements from Japanese traditional art forms such as Noh and samisen performances.
Another highlight from Japan is Koji Yamamura, who is mostly known for his Oscar-nominated Mt Head (2002). The exquisitely animated magnum opus tells a traditional Japanese story, but set in contemporary Tokyo, with a man eating a cherry pip that causes unexpected side effects. Yamamura’s The Old Crocodiles (2005) paints a poignant allegory of love and desire in which a crocodile slowly devours his friend and lover octopus.
On the home front, seasoned documentary director Ke Chin-yuan (柯金源) is being give some long-overdue recognition. He has used his camera to explore the country’s environmental issues while making documentaries with the Public Television Service (公共電視) since the 1990s.
Swing (擺盪, 2010) traces the 20-year history of orangutans that were smuggled in great numbers to Taiwan from their homes in the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia during the 1980s.
“If you are not a fan of Public Television, you probably don’t know Ke,” Chang said. “His documentaries are not your usual Discovery programs. They are very filmic and have a distinct style. To me, he is Taiwan’s Werner Herzog.”