Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 4 News List

FEATURE: Movies highlight artisans, environment

FROM SPINE TO SKIN:In his documentary ‘Bao Dao,’ director Chan Chia-lung employs the names of human body parts to characterize a variety of geological features

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

A clown fish photographed by a diver for the documentary Formosa 3D is pictured in an undated handout photograph.

Photo courtesy of Activator Marketing Co

Chu Chuan-li (曲全立), who this September released his latest work, Formosa 3D (美力台灣3D), says he has not changed his style, despite converting from a director of commercial TV shows to one devoted to environmental documentaries.

“I have never changed. I have focused on ‘content’ by playing with four elements — video, music, images and text,” Chu told the Taipei Times.

A resourceful director who has produced numerous musical videos, TV commercials and variety shows, Chu, now 51, is also one of the nation’s forerunners in developing 3D movies.

In 2013, he won the Harold Lloyd Award for 3D Taiwan, along with director Ang Lee (李安) for Life of Pi.

In 2002, Chu was diagnosed with a brain tumor that affected his sight, hearing and ability to eat.

After undergoing 28 hours of surgery, the left half of his body no longer functions properly.

“After the surgery, I felt I must seize the time to do what I want. On top of that, I got a coronary stent last year and more recently found that I have sleep apnea,” he said. “I feel like I am about to die every night.”

His latest documentary, Formosa 3D, which is to be screened nationwide from Dec. 22, offers viewers glimpses into the lives of more than 60 artisans and scientists, ranging from blacksmiths, puppet painters, straw sandal makers and bamboo steamer makers to researchers of butterflies indigenous to Taiwan.

Most characters in the film are just ordinary people, rather than well-known figures in their professions, Chu said.

When he set out to collect the stories of local artisans in 2008, he was rejected by many so-called masters, because he did not have a platform to broadcast his videos, Chu said.

“In hindsight, that was the best thing that happened,” he said. “Ordinary people are more open and honest.”

In the second part of the movie, Chu addresses marine pollution and overfishing by showing the beauty of the seas around Taiwan.

Only a beautiful land can nurture lovely people, he said.

“Loving Taiwan should not be reduced to a simplistic slogan,” he added.

Chu’s work is almost devoid of the generational conflict witnessed in Taiwanese society in recent years.

Straw raincoat maker Wu Tsao-ta (吳草塔) of Hsinchu County said he had dissuaded his children from inheriting his business, as he knows they would not be able to support their families.

Asked to address generational conflict, Chu’s eyes instantly blurred with tears.

“I am a descendant of Chinese immigrants, just like late director Chi Po-lin (齊柏林),” Chu said. “I am frustrated and angered whenever I see people try to incite discord between ethnic groups.”

“I want to leave more heritage, such as documentaries about the nation’s natural and cultural landscapes, to the next generations,” Chu said. “All I can do is document things. I am not good at writing or other things. I hope to present my works accumulated over the past 10 years to viewers with utmost sincerity.”

One of the experts appearing in Chu’s film, Chan Chia-lung (詹家龍), has also become a director and his latest work, Bao Dao (保島), premiered at Taipei’s Spot Huashan Cinema on Friday last week.

Previously known for his discovery of the migratory route of Taiwanese milkweed butterflies, Chan is now a conservationist and a director of documentaries.

“Before I worked to protect butterflies, I did not like to talk to people much,” Chan, 47, said. “Butterflies made me shut out the rest of the world, but they also broadened my view of the world.”

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