The Film Zone Pro Site — a comedy based around traditional Taiwanese outdoor banquet, or bandoh, culture — has become a box-office hit. One of its main scenes was shot at the Matsu Temple and on Jhongsiao Street, where the temple is located, in Greater Tainan’s West Central District, which has suddenly become a hot tourist attraction. Since the film’s showing in mid-August, thousands of people have visited the street. Some people have seen the investment potential of the properties on the street, and three old houses have already changed hands, while a good number of people are eager to rent commercial properties there to start a business.
Chang Lin Hai-bao, the real-life owner of the house at which the film’s eatery named “Ai Feng” is located, said that since the film’s showing in theaters nationwide, curious tourists have been crowding outside, wanting to peep inside her house, and she does invite tourists inside to look around. During weekends and holidays, the place is bustling and chock-a-block with people both inside and outside the house.
Many tourists have suggested that she run a shop in the house, selling nostalgic products such as marble soda, said Chang Lin. However, she is already 81, and did not want to take on so much work. There were also people inquiring about renting her house, offering NT$20,000 a month, but she thought it would be too much of a hassle and declined.
Wang Chen-i, who worked on Zone Pro Site, feels very much at home in Greater Tainan, as one of his parents is from Tainan. While prospecting scenes for the film, he fell in love with Jhongsiao Street’s simplicity. He bought the house where the film’s “Beef Soup” restaurant was for several million, and plans to open a Japanese-style izakaya pub there.
Greater Tainan is an interesting, unpretentious city with a host of historical sites scattered around, forming the backdrop to life there, said Wang, who is also obsessed with the city’s unique lanes and alleys. Although he wants to open the izakaya there, he also hopes to preserve the original nature of Jhongsiao Street, and so will not put any signs up outside.
According to Chang Lin, Zone Pro Site has brought a continuous flow of people to Jhongsiao Street and reinvigorated the real-estate market along the street. Aside from the three old houses that have been sold, prospective buyers are currently in the midst of negotiating the sales of more houses.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Lin Ya-ti)