Over the next few weeks, world-renowned auteurs from Chinese-speaking regions will congregate at this year’s Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬影展), which opens today, to celebrate a special occasion. They include Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢) and Ang Lee (李安); Ann Hui (許鞍華) and Johnnie To (杜琪峰) of Hong Kong and Lou Ye (婁燁) from China.
“The Golden Horse Awards (金馬獎) [the festival’s much-older sister event] is celebrating its fiftieth birthday, and we wanted to do something special. We invited these masters to celebrate the big birthday with us by showing their works and discussing their art directly with audiences,” says Emma Chen (陳曉珮), the festival’s program director.
The filmmakers were asked to pick one film from their oeuvre. A one-hour talk will be held following the screening of each film. Among them, Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) will present Stray Dogs (郊遊), his latest feature-length work which uses the director’s signature minimalist style and his longtime muse Lee Kang-sheng (李康生) to weave together a non-narrative tale revolving around a homeless family.
From China, celebrated director Jia Zhangke (賈樟柯) examines the social and political upheavals in China through the stories of four characters in A Touch of Sin (天注定), his new Cannes-winning film.
Established in 1979, the Golden Horse has long become the country’s foremost cinema showcase. An extensive lineup of more than 170 features, documentary, animation, short and experimental films will be shown this year, and are divided into 16 categories. Under the helm of Chen, who became program director this year after working at the festival for nearly a decade, this year’s festival focuses more on up-and-coming filmmakers and films that aren’t afraid to challenge audiences.
What: 2013 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (2013台北金馬影展)
When: Today through Nov. 28
Where: Shin Kong Cineplex (新光影城), 36 Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路36號); Spot Huashan Cinema (光點華山電影館), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1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, NT$115 for senior citizens aged 65 and up and people with disabilities), available through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
On the net: www.goldenhorse.org.tw
“The mission of the [festival] used to be introducing local audiences to big-name directors. But that period has long passed. Now we can see almost anything in Taiwan. Consequently, I think the festival needs to place more focus on new directors and films that are different and unique,” she says.
New talents, different viewpoints
Harmony Lessons, for example, is 29-year-old Kazakh writer-director Emir Baigazin’s debut feature which was selected for the top-tier Berlinale’s official competition this year. Set in a desolate village on the wild steppes of Kazakhstan, the darkly poetic film centers on Aslan, a 13-year-old boy who enjoys pursuing bizarre scientific hobbies such as electrifying cockroaches and, in the face of bullying at school, turns dangerously violent.
Credited as the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, Wadjda is the debut feature of Haifaa al-Mansour, reportedly the first Saudi female director. It offers viewers a glimpse into what women face in an oppressive regime through an engaging story of an 11-year-old Saudi girl determined to own a bicycle even though riding bikes is deemed improper for girls in the patriarchal country.
Among the works that challenge conventions and push limits in terms of form and/or content, Of Good Report, a dark thriller from South Africa about a high school teacher’s lustful obsession with a 16-year-old female student,
Of Good Report, a South African movie that challenges both conventions and cinematic form, created considerable buzz when it was selected to open the Durban International Film Festival in July. The dark thriller tells the story of a high school teacher’s lustful obsession with a 16-year-old female student. However, instead of the movie, Durban festivalgoers were greeted with an on-screen message informing them that the film was banned because the country’s censor deemed it child pornography.