Thu, Nov 05, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Giddyap, it’s Golden Horse time

The highlight of the year arrives for cinephiles with the opening of the Golden Horse Film Festival, which runs through the end of the month

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

Ciro Guerra, Embrace of the Serpent.

Photo courtesy of Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival

It is the time of the season when film buffs and art-house moviegoers gleefully indulge in the dazzling array of choices on offer at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬影展), which celebrates its 35th edition this year. The lineup of more than 170 feature, documentary, animation and short films is designed to accommodate diverse tastes and sensibilities, ranging from works of cinematic greats to musicals and gay movies.

Also featured are films that have garnered accolades on the international film festival circuit for the past year, as are the less accessible art-house pieces that amaze and confound with their different viewpoints and aesthetics. Read on for a selection of festival highlights. It may help to ease the burden of navigating through the 252-page festival booklet.

FESTIVAL FAVES

New releases by film maestros from around the world always make a high point of the Golden Horse. Philippe Garrel, Atom Egoyan and Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) all put out new works, but the most noticeable is Jafar Panahi’s Taxi, the third film that the Iranian director has made since 2010, when he was sentenced to house arrest and given a 20-year ban on filmmaking on the ground of political dissent. In the clandestinely produced work, Panahi pretends to be a cab driver and films his encounters with strangers and acquaintances with a dashboard-mounted camera. Public debates and conversations are therefore rendered possible in private, turning a taxi ride on the streets of Tehran into an act of political defiance. The film was awarded with the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival this year.

The issue of refugees takes central stage at French director Jacques Audiard’s almost entirely Tamil-language immigrant drama Dheepan, which follows the lives of three Sri Lankan refugees as they flee their war-torn country only to find themselves trapped in violence in the house projects in Paris. The film beat Hou Hsiao-hsien’s (侯孝賢) The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) to win the Golden Palm at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

With The Pearl Button, worldly renown documentarian Patricio Guzman studies Chile’s history of genocide as he turns his poetic lens onto the indigenous peoples of Chilean Patagonia. As a documentary, the film receives a rare recognition by picking up the Silver Bear for best script at this year’s Berlin film festival.

Among freshly recognized talent on the global stage, Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes delivers a Cannes-winning debut feature titled Son of Saul, a grim, powerful Holocaust drama centering on a Jewish prisoner forced to assist Nazis at the death camp of Auschwitz.

From Afar by Venezuelan first-time director Lorenzo Vigas scooped the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion with a quiet, but deeply felt, gay romance between a well-off, middle-aged man and a young street thug.

CHALLENGING SENSIBILITIES

Under the helm of Emma Chen (陳曉珮), the festival’s program director, the Golden Horse has put emphasis on films that aren’t afraid to challenge audiences. For something weird and kinky, Austrian auteur Ulrich Seidl returns to documentary filmmaking with In the Basement, a project reportedly conceived years before the horrendous crimes of Wolfgang Priklopil and Josef Fritzl were discovered. Noted for his exploration of the grotesque side of bourgeois Austria, Seidl takes viewers into Austrians’ suburban cellars where most personal hobbies are conducted and celebrated.

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