Thu, Oct 27, 2011 - Page 13 News List

A question with no easy answer

Filmmaker Chen Lih-kuei’s new movie takes an intimate look at the meaning of Taiwanese identity for people who reached adulthood during the end of the martial law era

By Catherine Shu  /  Staff Reporter

“That invalidated my life as I knew it,” Lim says in the film.

In an interview with the Taipei Times after the film’s premiere screening on Oct. 19, Lim said he hopes the film will reach a global audience.

“I think people from around the world need to see it. Because when you talk to Taiwanese people, it should be like when you talk to Irish people or Quebecois people,” says Lim. “You can’t say Irish people are English or that all Quebecois are Canadian when many of them feel that Quebec is a country within a country.”

The movie’s US promotional team is currently seeking venues across that country, in part to reach out to younger people of Taiwanese descent, says Herbert Chang (張皓博), one of the film’s English language translators.

“[Dear Taiwan] paints a better picture of who the Taiwanese people are. Yes it is confusing, but the film does a good job of illustrating exactly why it is confusing, and therefore the importance of the topic,” said Chang in an e-mail interview.

One segment of Dear Taiwan focuses on a debate held at Cafe Philo with about 40 Taiwanese and Chinese university students. During the event, which was organized by the Youth Synergy Taiwan Foundation (青平台), participants expressed opinions ranging from the belief that unification is necessary for stability in East Asia to “the Republic of China died in 1949.”

Despite the heated discussion, Chen says the atmosphere at the debate, which took place in June, was relaxed. She adds that there were several Chinese students who supported Taiwanese independence, but were wary about saying so on camera.

“I was surprised, because if I want to talk to people from my own generation [about Taiwanese identity and independence], especially if we are from different backgrounds, I would feel a little bit uncomfortable and worried that I would hurt their feelings,” she says.

“But [at Cafe Philo], everyone was very open and honest, which is why I included so much footage from it. I want people to realize that this kind of discussion is not frightening.”

Chen hopes that message will reach people across the political spectrum. She recalls speaking with a student after the National Taiwan University screening.

“She told me that everyone in her home supports the KMT, so she felt uneasy at first. She thought she would be surrounded by people who were completely different, culturally, from her,” says Chen.

“But after she saw the movie, she told me she thought it was very rational and she felt she could relate to it,” says Chen. ”She thanked me, but I actually felt very thankful for what she said, because my goal is to encourage more people to think about this issue.”


WHAT: Dear Taiwan at Cafe Philo (慕哲咖啡館). Chen Lih-kuei (陳麗貴) will participate in a question and answer session after the film

WHEN: Tonight at 7:30pm. Additional screenings will take place Thursdays at 7:30pm and Saturdays at 5pm at Cafe Philo until Dec. 3

WHERE: 3 Shaoxing N St, Taipei City (台北市紹興北街3號)


ON THE NET: For a schedule of additional screenings, visit The Cafe Philo screenings will have Chinese subtitles. The film is available with Chinese, English and Japanese subtitles for independently arranged events. For more information, visit the film’s Web site or send an e-mail to

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