Wu Pao-chun (吳寶春) was back in the headlines earlier this year when the master baker from Greater Kaohsiung was refused admission to the nation’s universities to pursue an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree because he did not have an undergraduate degree or a “class A technician” certificate.
When the National University of Singapore (NUS) sent a recruiter to Taipei to invite the 42-year-old Wu to join its EMBA program, the offer sparked controversy on local TV talk shows.
Veteran film director Lin Cheng-sheng (林正盛), who had studied to be a baker when he was a teenager and worked in a bakery for 10 years — and has had his own run-ins with red tape as a director over the years — immediately spotted an opportunity and proposed shooting a docu-drama about the baker’s life.
Wu gave Lin the green light and the movie, titled 27°C — Loaf Rocks (世界第一麥方) is set for a July 19 release.
The film was shot in several locations across the island — including Greater Taichung, Nantou County and Greater Kaohsiung — and the crew went to Paris in the cold of winter as well to shoot a few scenes because Wu learned much of his craft in France.
Folk singer and film score composer Chen Ming-chuan (陳明章), who recently won a Golden Bell award for the score of the movie A Ripple of Desire (花漾), was asked to compose the music, and his seven-year-old son was cast to play the role of Wu as a young boy growing up in a family of eight.
Wu plays himself as an adult in the film.
Lin, born in 1954 in Taitung, has made more than 12 feature movies and documentaries, one of which earned a best director award at the 1999 Berlin Film Festival. He has had his share of problems with the film industry over the years, so he brings to 27°C — Loaf Rocks a personal feeling for what Wu had to go through to get to where he is today.
Wu’s fans are eagerly awaiting the movie’s release.
Vivi Yeh (葉濰綺), a 19-year-old college student in Greater Taichung who has worked in the food and beverage industry, said she thinks the film will resonate with audiences not only in Taiwan, but overseas as well.
“I’m quite interested in his story,” she said. “I know that everyone has different chances and opportunities in life, but what really moves me about Wu’s background is his attitude towards life, proving that everything can be a masterpiece if you put your heart into it.”
Wu will be studying in Singapore over the next two years, but does not have to physically be in Singapore the whole time.
Under the NUS program, Wu needs to visit the city-state four times a year, for 10 days at a time. The rest of the time he can be in Taiwan, overseeing his bakeries in Kaohsiung and Taipei.
27°C — Loaf Rocks has a happy ending. Wu’s rise as a master baker, with several awards from Europe, and with a solid reputation as the best bread man in Taiwan, has moved people nationwide.
The film will be shown in Mandarin and Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), with Chinese subtitles.
English subtitles will be added to the DVD release.