Friends or Foes? (剪刀石頭布) is an unfinished film by seasoned director Wang Hsiao-ti (王小棣) — and that’s the point. To wrap it up, the filmmaker will call on young audiences around the nation to help the movie’s 12-year-old protagonist resolve a problem.
The movie, such as it is, forms part of the Taiwan International Children’s Film Festival (台灣國際兒童影展), which begins today with themes of independent and creative thinking.
“When discussing the theme with ... child psychologists and teachers about the kind of abilities our children mostly lack, we realized that parents and teachers do the thinking and solve problems for them. By presenting films that contain diverse viewpoints and different ways of thinking, we hope to foster independent and creative thought,” says Yang Shu-wen (楊淑雯), the festival’s executive manager.
Initiated in 2004 by the Public Television Service (PTS), the biennial film showcase focuses on movies that are made for children and told through their perspectives. This year’s lineup features over 100 fictional, animation, documentary and short films, as well as television programs, from 32 countries. Among them, 25 works will compete for cash prizes totaling NT$1 million at the international competition section.
Strong contenders include Kauwboy from the Netherlands, which explores a father-son relationship through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy. From Spain, The Red Carpet follows 12-year-old Rubina, who grows up in Garib Nagar slum in Mumbai, India.
Hungarian animated short Rabbit and Deer, tells of two friends, a rabbit and a deer, whose friendship is put to the test by the deer’s sudden obsession with three-dimensional space. Most filmmakers will attend question-and-answer sessions to discuss their films with the audience.
What: Taiwan International Children’s Film Festival (台灣國際兒童影展)
When: Through April 6
Where: Vieshow Cinemas Taipei Xinyi
(台北信義威秀影城), 18 Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路18號)
Admission: Tickets cost NT$50 per screening, available through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
On the Net: www.ticff.org.tw
The majority of the selected works in the competition come from Europe, where children’s films and television programming is highly developed, Yang said.
Finding a ending
Back in Taiwan, youngsters can help director Wang and her team complete the story of Friends or Foes? by participating in the after-screening workshops to discuss how to solve the protagonists’ friendship problem. They can also send their solutions to PTS, which will start broadcasting the movie on Tuesday. Three solutions will be picked to make three different endings.
Get up, stand up
Children are also encouraged to speak out and fight for their rights. In The Game Must Go On, a group of children in Greece demand the right to play soccer on a playground.
The issue of nuclear power is explored in films such as Children of the Tsunami, a BBC production that shows compelling testimony of children who survived the 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan and triggered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Meanwhile, stereotypes of gender identity and sexual orientation are challenged through films grouped under the I am Who I am section. Pink or Blue?, for example, is a short documentary centering on a 4-year-old cross-dressing boy, while in Straight with You, 11-year-old Melvin is put in a quandary over a love letter sent from a girl in his class.
Apart from screenings, several discussions will be held by professionals on various topics including clean energy and conservation. For more information, visit the festival’s bilingual Web site at www.ticff.org.tw.