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.
Photo courtesy of Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival
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.
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.
A world apart from the South American landscape, Tangerine gives a raw portrait of the sex-trade subcultures in Los Angeles through the tale of two transgender prostitutes shot on three iPhones.
DIRECTORS IN FOCUS
This year’s Golden Horse features three directors in focus, and for sophisticated viewers, British master Peter Greenaway makes sex and death the perennial subjects in his cinema of transgression and blasphemy. The festival will present seven of Greenaway’s works, including The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), a critical and commercial success that mocks capitalist vulgarity, and The Baby of Macon (1993), which marks the director’s brutal assault on religion.
His latest work, Eisenstein in Guanajuato, reportedly offended Russia due to its depiction of Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein, zooming in on the national hero’s 10-day intense love affair with a male guide in the Mexican city of Guanajuato in late 1930s.
Greenaway will attend the festival to talk about his provocative cinema.
To observe the 100th anniversary of the birth of Orson Welles, the festival will present the American director’s masterpieces Citizen Kane (1941) and The Lady from Shanghai (1948), as well as The Third Man (1949), British director Carol Reed‘s Cannes-winning film noir starring Welles.
What: Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬影展)
When: Today through Nov. 26
Where: 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), Ambassador Theatre at Spring Center (長春廣場), 176 Changchun Rd, Taipei City (台北市長春路176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), Shin Kong Cineplex (新光影城), 36 Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路36號), LUX Cinema (樂聲影城), 85, Wuchang St Sec 2 Taipei City (武昌街二段85號)
Admission: Tickets are NT$180 for weekday matinee screenings, NT$250 for weeknight and weekend screenings, NT$220 for students with ID, NT$125 for senior citizens aged 65 and up and people with disabilities, available through tghff.tixcraft.com and at the door.
On the net: www.goldenhorse.org.tw
It has been 26 years since Nicholas Gould hosted his last Issues and Opinions radio show for ICRT a recording studio on Roosevelt Road. He remembers the familiar ‘whoosh’ as the door to the soundproof room closes and recognizes the carpet, but the recording equipment is gone, with half of the space being used for storage. Gould is filled with nostalgia as he greets his guests, two financial writers who are here to discuss Taiwan’s post-COVID-19 economy for his new podcast, Taiwan Matters. Gould had been thinking of revisiting his old career for a while, but being allowed access to
The 22nd Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節) opens tonight with three productions, a slightly scaled-down pandemic version that seeks to keep its tradition of big ideas, challenging programs and international connections alive and moving forward in an increasingly uncertain world. The theme of this year’s festival is “Super@#S%?” — as good a term as any when descriptives and superlatives seem not only inadequate, but somewhat irrelevant in a world where so many people cannot imagine being able to return to theaters, either as performers or audience members — they are too worried about having a job and their health. Technically, however, it is
Shuanglianpi (雙連埤) is both a Hakka outpost and a place of great ecological interest. The conjoined body of water from which it gets its name is the centerpiece of the 17.16-hectare Shuanglianpi Wildlife Refuge (雙連埤野生動物保護區). No waterways of significance fill or drain this scenic lake in Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township (員山鄉). During the 1895 to 1945 period of Japanese rule, the colonial authorities — struggling to secure Taiwan’s foothills — encouraged Han people to settle in areas adjacent to indigenous communities. Around 1910, a 49-year-old Hakka pioneer called Tsou Cheng-sheng (鄒成生) from what’s now Taoyuan decided to begin farming at
Wild Sparrow (野雀之詩) is simple and extremely slow paced, told through the eyes of Han (Kao Yu-hsia, 高於夏), an introspective, shy grade schooler who lives with his great-grandmother in the verdant countryside. Han has a fascination with sparrows, which are either flying high in the sky or trapped in cages and nets, providing a constant metaphor throughout the film. In the most ironic scene, a man catches the birds just to charge people to set them free again, taking advantage of Buddhists who engage in the ritual of “releasing” animals from captivity. Han takes a badly injured sparrow home and