Nation’s scenery on show in documentary premiere

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Nov 01, 2013 - Page 5

A documentary that showcases the nation’s stunning scenery from the air had its Taipei premiere on Wednesday, attracting 3,000 people to the outdoor screening, including first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青).

The documentary, titled Beyond Beauty — Taiwan From Above (看見台灣), which consists of aerial shots of the nation’s varied landscapes — including mountains, ocean, farmlands and valleys — taken by director Chi Po-lin (齊柏林), was screened at the Liberty Plaza.

The 93-minute film had a budget of close to NT$100 million (US$3.4 million) and was made over a three-year period, with hundreds of hours spent in the air.

In addition to the beautiful scenery, the documentary shows how human actions and natural disasters affect the landscape and sends a message about environmental protection.

Chi, an aerial photographer who quit his job to shoot the documentary, said that when he started making it, people said that it was an impossible task.

“I was lucky to have support and encouragement over the years, making it possible for us to ‘see’ Taiwan,” Chi told the audience before the screening. “I hope this film will remind everyone that we should get to know Taiwan and protect it.”

Veteran director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢) produced the film, award-winning Singaporean composer Ricky Ho wrote the score, and writer and director Wu Nien-chen (吳念真) was the film’s narrator.

Nolay Piho, an Aboriginal actor and pastor, sings his own compositions in the documentary.

Having grown up in the mountains, Piho said he got his inspiration for the songs by looking at the film sequences.

The screening was made possible through public fund-raising, which collected NT$2.48 million from Sept. 25 to Oct. 21.

The documentary opens in 44 theaters nationwide today. It has been nominated for best documentary and best original film score at the 50th Golden Horse Awards ceremony scheduled for Nov. 23.