As the country’s foremost cinema showcase, the Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬影展) has reached out to a younger demographic over the past few years and successfully transformed itself from an event of film screenings attended by serious cinephiles to a cultural feast that attracts diverse audiences.
To accommodate festivalgoers’ vastly different tastes and preferences, the 31st Golden Horse is showing even more movies under a bulging variety of categories and sub-categories. Nearly 200 feature, documentary, animation, short and experimental films are divided into 10 major segments, requiring a 267-page festival program. In light of the increasing difficulty of navigating through the festival’s dazzling programs, the Taipei Times offers a snapshot of what’s on offer.
Masters, new talents
Tickets are selling fast for the latest works by film maestros including Pedro Almodovar, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Aki Kaurismaki and Gus Van Sant, which form the bulk of the festival’s annual focus on what is going on in the world of cinema. Among freshly recognized talent on the international film festival circuit, Belgian writer-director Michael Roskam delivers a compelling debut feature titled Bullhead, which looks at the shady Belgian beef industry through the eyes of a deeply troubled young man who embodies a macho persona by injecting increasingly large doses of testosterone into his body. Meanwhile, in his Cannes-winning Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, up-and-coming Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan explores the human condition through a slow-moving story about police searching for a dead man in the eerie landscape of Anatolia. The first 90 minutes of the film are filled with seemingly insignificant conversations and no conventional action: Viewers, you have been warned.
What: 2011 Golden Horse Film Festival (2011台北金馬影展)
When: Until Nov. 24
Where: Shin Kong Cineplex (新光影城), 36 Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路36號), Ambassador Theatre (國賓影城) at Breeze Center (微風廣場), 7F, 39, Fuxing S Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市復興南路一段39號7樓) and Ambassador Theatre at Spring Center (長春廣場), 176 Changchun Rd, Taipei City (台北市長春路176號)
Tickets: NT$230 per screening (NT$200 for students with ID and people with disabilities), available through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
On the net: www.goldenhorse.org.tw
Can any self-respecting film buff resist the urge to revisit digitally restored masterpieces such as A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver and La Dolce Vita? Among the timeless magna opera being screened in this section, Deep End is relatively unknown in Taiwan but often regarded as the finest work of Jerzy Skolimowski, a key figure of the Polish new wave movement that took shape during the 1960s. The sexually charged and darkly humorous work is said to cast insight into the sexuality of 1960s Britain as it follows a 15-year-old boy and his growing obsession with his co-worker at a bathhouse in London.
Director in focus
This year’s Golden Horse features five directors in focus, and for sophisticated viewers, Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr’s filmic world offers a lot to study and write papers about (he is adored by the likes of Susan Sontag and Jim Jarmusch). Shot in high-contrast black-and-white, his latest work, The Turin Horse, leisurely unfolds over the course of six days and allows audiences to spend the entire two and half hours contemplating the mundane routines of a father and his grown-up daughter living on a modest farm. Tarr’s 1994 Satans’ Tango promises to offer a viewing experience like no other, as the much-revered epic lasts over seven hours and relates the story of a group of collective farm residents in an unnamed country whose communist regime is collapsing.
The presence of women is significantly pronounced this year, with a lot of movies addressing women’s issues and experiences and/or made by female filmmakers. Lebanese writer-director Nadine Labaki muses on how to stop inter-religious conflicts in Where Do We Go Now? in which the women in a remote village inhabited by both Muslims and Christians try to keep their men from starting a religious war, with strategies that include staging a fake miracle, drugging the men, and hiring a troop of strippers. On a more bitter note, Scottish director Lynn Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin offers a bleak look at the title teen’s killing spree through the memory of his mother, played by the brilliant Tilda Swinton.