Thu, Jul 31, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Noted Atayal movie to hold premiere

PREMIERE Residents from several Atayal communities near or within the Shei-pa National Park were involved in the writing of the screenplay before filming began

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The production team and actors of the first Atayal movie Once Upon A Time celebrated the achievement of winning a Platinum Remi award at this year's WorldFest Houston International Film Festival yesterday while announcing the film's premiere on Sunday.

The film project began as a plan by the Shei-pa National Park (雪霸國家公園) administration to make a documentary showing the culture and history of Atayal people living in the national park, said Lin Ching (林青), director of the national park.

“But later, the production team decided to make it into a drama to make it more interesting,” Lin said.

Many Atayal consider Dabajian Mountain (大霸尖山) in Shei-pa National Park to be the place where the tribe originated, and hence a sacred mountain.

The movie tells the story of how ancient Atayal migrated from Dabajian Mountain to find new land elsewhere and built their own settlements.

Nowadays, Atayal settlements can be found in Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Nantou, Hualien and Ilan counties.

“What the production team did was nothing more than putting works done by Atayal communities and academics together,” Chen Wen-pin (陳文彬), director of the film, told a news conference held in Taipei.

Residents from Atayal communities near or within the Shei-pa National Park were involved in writing the script before filming began, Chen said.

“Later, we asked elders in these communities to teach the younger generations to build a replica of an ancient Atayal village through traditional construction methods and with traditional materials,” Chen said.

“A few months later, these ‘construction workers’ — ordinary Atayal — became actors in the movie,” he said.

Chen said that the language was the most difficult element of the filming.

“Different generations speak Atayal differently, but since the background of the movie is set in an ancient Atayal village, we needed elders to teach the younger actors how to speak Atayal in the old-fashioned way,” he said.

“And since different communities may speak different dialects, we had to work on the accents as well,” he said.

“Sometimes we had to stop the filming to discuss exactly how a line should be said,” Chen said.

The urgency of the movie came from not only the need for a record of the tribe’s history, but also the language, the director said.

All the hard work was rewarded when the film received a Platinum Remi at the Houston festival in April, in addition to being accepted to several other film festivals in China and Russia.

“When we were called on stage to receive the award [in Houston] and asked where we were from, I was very proud to answer ‘Taiwan,’” Chen said.

The film will premiere on Sunday at Shei-pa National Park’s Wenshui (汶水) Visitor Information Center in Miaoli County.

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