Wed, Jun 13, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Celebrating community in four small films

The writers and directors of Filmmaker Nights Taipei: Short Film Development Project took the call for expat stories to heart, and shared that heart with their peers

By Kayleigh Madjar  /  Staff reporter

The story sends a gentle message that being yourself and showing kindness will often be returned. Indeed, Patty’s disparaging remarks to her family were returned with the kind of rejection that Buddy had originally feared.

TOO SWEET

Director Aurelien Jegou’s camera had the most to say in Too Sweet, as the characters had trouble saying anything at all.

The scenes flip between jagged handheld shots of a woman running through the streets of Taipei and moments of stillness as Lynn (Huang Tai-li, 黃台禮) and Julie (Jessica Chen, 陳文怡) share tender, pained silences.

In their first scene together, only Lynn’s face is visible as she struggles to utter the words: “I have to leave.” On their last night together, Lynn says “I love you” before Julie coldy replies: “You should get ready for bed. You have a long day tomorrow.”

The woman running was Julie, desperate to catch Lynn before she left. She stops around the corner, out of breath as Lynn’s car pulls away, a moment of heartbreak as the audience realizes she is too late, but in the final moments, Lynn pulls a note from her pocket and reads the words she had hoped to hear.

Building relationships in a place that is transitory is a tricky business, as the specter of leaving hangs overhead. So many choose to keep a modicum of distance to preempt the pain, but Too Sweet encourages depth of feeling, even if brief. Just as Uncle Buddy offered a vision of acceptance, Too Sweet, swings an arm around those who fear losing everything they have built here and tells them it will always be worth it.

DARK WEB

At first glance, the final short seemed to diverge from the rest. Dark Web, a thriller about a screenwriter named Tom (Sascha Heusermann) who, while researching the depraved parts of the Internet for a screenplay, inadvertently gives a murderer control over his computer. The killer then forces Tom to watch his girlfriend’s death before his own is broadcast. Although the short does not seem to have much to say about the expat experience in Taiwan, placed alongside the others, it served as a practical illustration of the fears dramatized earlier.

If Chancy’s Big Night was a call to action for creatives, then author and lead actor Heusermann heard it loud and clear. He wrote the screenplay based on a dream he had and set to work to realize that vision. He found a Taiwanese production company and pushed forward with pre-production. However, with the film already well on its way, a disagreement about rights (the company wanted full ownership) forced the production to stop. The Filmmaker Nights project provided a means to complete the project, even if it fell short of his dream.

Heusermann’s journey offers an example of Openshaw’s opening lament. Foreigners have stories to tell, but the means are scarce, and many are left to conduct the music only in their minds.

No one in the cinema, however, left with a feeling of stagnation, as the four films provided an antidote. Granted, the results were rough — the inevitability of two days of shooting each and limited editing time — but there they were, projected on the screen in front of a sympathetic audience with ideas of their own.

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