Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Documenting art and culture

In its second year, the Chiayi City International Art Documentary Film Festival runs from today until March 29 at the Chiayi Municipal Museum

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

Stephen Silha, Eric Slade and Dawn Logsdon, Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton.

Photo courtesy of Chen I-tang and Chiayi City International Art Documentary Film Festival

Tragedy, conflict and disaster may be topics favored by documentary filmmakers, but they aren’t the kind of fare that the Chiayi City International Art Documentary Film Festival (嘉義國際藝術紀錄片影展) is interested in. In its second year, the annual event opts for films about art and culture and works with distinct viewpoints and concern for the obscure and the marginal.

“I think it is about time to have a documentary film festival dedicated to works that dwell on human experiences that are more subtle and profound, bringing to light nuanced values rarely presented to the public,” the festival’s artistic director Huang Ming-chuan (黃明川) says.


With a lineup of 32 films from home and abroad, the festival opens today at the Chiayi Municipal Museum and runs through March 29. Addressing concerns that the artistically ambitious showcase might have difficulty taking root and thriving in a small city like Chiayi, Huang says that his hometown has a long artistic tradition. Dubbed The City of Painting (畫都), Chiayi was home to many famous painters such as Chen Cheng-po (陳澄波) during the Japanese colonial era. Even to this day, painting studios are a common sight in the streets of Chiayi.

“Film festivals don’t just happen in big cities. They can also be found in towns and villages like Cannes. People can spend a few days there, away from the urban rat race. If you look at film festivals this way, then the subject of arts fits Chiayi perfectly, where people can come to relax, watch films and contemplate something more profound,” the director adds.


Huang says an art documentary doesn’t merely talk about an individual artist or an art work. It can also speak of much broader subjects or issues. As a result, the films shown at the festival are not only about literature, arts, design and music, but also history, community and ways of life.

Festival notes:

What: Chiayi City International Art Documentary Film Festival (嘉義國際藝術紀錄片影展)

When: Today through March 29

Where: Chiayi Municipal Museum (嘉義市立博物館), 275-1, Jhongsiao Rd, Chiayi City (嘉義市忠孝路275-1號)

Admission: Free

On the net:

A good example can be found in Huang’s own film, Sound of Sakura (櫻之聲). Twelve years in the making, the documentary explores the issue of cultural identity and language through the lives and works of a group of Taiwanese trans-lingual writers who lived through the Japanese colonial period and continued to write in Japanese and Hoklo (more commonly known as Taiwanese) in post-war Taiwan.

The question of what may happen when two artists from different cultural and artistic backgrounds work together is examined in Orlando: Documentary (歐蘭朵:製作全紀錄), which sheds light on the creative process behind Orlando, a theatrical collaboration between Robert Wilson, American playwright and director noted for his minimalist aesthetic, and Peking opera diva Wei Hai-ming (魏海敏), premiered at the National Theater (國家戲劇院) in 2009.

The sociopolitical complexity surrounding Israel and Palestine and the rarely noticed worldview of the hearing-impaired are juxtaposed in American filmmaker Judy Lieff’s Deaf Jam. The film follows Israeli-born Aneta Brodski, a deaf Jewish teen now living in the US, as she is introduced to American Sign Language (ASL) poetry, a literary form adopted by deaf poets to create stories, using physical demonstrations. Her collaboration with non-deaf Palestinian slam poet Tahani leads to a different form of slam poetry that can be appreciated by anyone, with or without hearing impairment.

For Taiwanese productions, Huang gives the nod to filmmaker Jessica Wan-Yu Lin (林婉玉) as a new talent to keep an eye on. Two of Lin’s works will be screened at the festival. TPE-Tics (台北抽搐) reveals the bewildering mind of Huang Da-wang (黃大旺), also known as Black Wolf (黑狼), a social misfit and a remarkable sound artist and noise maker, while A Memory of Emptied Memories (記憶空的記憶) examines Emptied Memories (空的記憶), a theatrical production co-created by choreographer Chou Shu-yi (周書毅) and director Chou Tung-yen (周東彥).

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