Supported by a top-notch team of programmers, including film critic Ryan Cheng (鄭秉泓) and curator Christine Huang Tsui-hua (黃翠華), poet, theater and film director and curator Yen Hung-ya (閻鴻亞), who goes by the pen name Hung Hung (鴻鴻), has put together a refreshingly distinctive lineup of 72 feature, short, documentary and animated works from 35 countries for the New Taipei City Film Festival (新北市電影藝術節), which is funded by New Taipei City Government.
Under the charge of festival director Hung Hung and his team, the annual showcase has grown from its obscure origin as a government-organized cultural event to an exciting festival that aims to raise awareness of social issues and treats films not only as artistic creations but as an effective way to communicate with the world around us.
As New Taipei City is home to a large number of new immigrants and foreign laborers, many of the festival’s selected works explore migrants’ experiences in Taiwan. Problems that local citizens encounter everyday, such as environmental, educational and developmental issues, also feature predominantly. The curators deliberately shied away from European and North American cinema to focus on films from Latin America, Southeast Asia and Chinese-speaking regions.
Stories from new immigrants are told in several local productions. Among them, Cheng Yu-chieh’s (鄭有傑) My Little Honey Moon (野蓮香) deals with a young Vietnamese woman who finds herself trapped after marrying into a farming family in rural Taiwan. In The Happy Life of Debbie (黛比的幸福生活) by Fu Tien-yu (傅天余), an Indonesian woman leaves her hometown and lover behind and starts a new life in Yunlin County with a Taiwanese veteran.
What: New Taipei City Film Festival (新北市電影藝術節)
When: Today through May 13
Where: Ambassador Theatre at Global Mall (國賓影城@環球購物中心), 4F, 122, Jhongshan Rd Sec 3, Zhonghe Dist, New Taipei City (新北市中和區中山路三段122號4樓), Vie Show Cinemas Banqiao Mega City (板橋大遠百威秀影城), 10F, 28, Sinjhan Rd, Banciao Dist, New Taipei City (新北市板橋區新站路28號10樓), Fuzong 15 (府中15), 15 Fujhong Rd, Banciao Dist, New Taipei City (新北市板橋區府中路15號), 507 conference room at New Taipei City Hall (新北市政府), 5F, 161, Jhongshan Rd Sec 1, Banciao Dist, New Taipei City (新北市板橋區中山路一段161號5樓)
Admission: Tickets are NT$100 per screening, available through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks and at the door
On The Net: www.ntpcff.com.tw
Born in Myanmar and having moved to Taipei aged 16, filmmaker Midi Z (趙德胤) focuses on Burmese expats in Taiwan as well as Burmese people of Chinese descent. Having worked various manual jobs to support himself, the 30-year-old director, who possesses remarkable storytelling skills, is seen by some local critics as Taiwan’s most promising young filmmaker. The festival will screen the director’s debut feature Return to Burma (歸來的人) and a selection of his short films.
Also on the lineup is Lin Jing-jie’s (林靖傑) inspiring documentary Dear Mother Earth (跟著賴和去壯遊), in which a group of six high-school students become eyewitnesses to the controversies surrounding the relocation of the Sanying Aboriginal Community (三鶯部落) and the compulsory purchase of farmland at Dapu Village (大埔), Miaoli County, as they travel from Taipei to Changhua.
Moving away from home, boundaries are meant to be contested and broken in the works of independent filmmaking from Hong Kong being screened at the festival. The Drunkard (酒徒) by Freddie Wong (黃國兆) adopts a realist vocabulary in its adaptation of Chinese author Liu Yichang’s (劉以鬯) 1963 novel of the same title, which is regarded as the first stream-of-consciousness work in Chinese literature.
Meanwhile, Evans Chan’s (陳耀成) stylish and sophisticated Datong: The Great Society (大同:康有為在瑞典) fuses documentary, drama and theater to create an experimental account of Kang Youwei’s (康有為) four-year sojourn in Sweden after his attempt to modernize imperial China was crushed in 1898. Revered as an important Chinese thinker, Kang is also known for his Datong Shu (大同書), or the Book of the Great Way, which contains many progressive ideas on gay and animal rights and renewable marriage contracts.