It is a pity the movie Formosa Betrayed is ending its tour of Taiwan soon.
Even more of a pity is how the general public seem unaware that the movie is being shown in Taiwan. While the film did have a small budget of US$8 million, raised mostly through donations, I am amazed by the lack of talk about the film in the Taiwanese media.
I imagined the media would scramble over this work. This film could help people discover what Taiwan is or what the identity of Taiwan is like, but most of the media was silent. Few people knew about it, and even fewer were actively spreading knowledge of the movie by word of mouth.
Of course, it can easily be seen why the movie was not widely reported: Most media outlets are pro-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) or have a non-Taiwan-centric view. The few that did report on it do not have a wide circulation. If one knows about the general politics of Taiwan, this is obvious.
This film is a major step toward open dialogue about the past 70 years of Taiwan’s history. The White Terror, the repression felt by the Taiwanese under the KMT, the events of Feb. 28, 1947, and the killings of Taiwanese professors overseas were, until recently, taboo subjects. Other than numerous books, a few documentaries and anecdotes traded by family members, I have not seen much discussion of the era. Even official documents concerning this period for the most part are still censored and unavailable to the general public.
The attitude displayed by the government, or at least most media outlets, is a “hush-hush” attitude that was typical of the White Terror/KMT period of rule. It is very obvious if one knows about the development of the movie.
If forcing Will Tiao (刁毓能) and the crew of Formosa Betrayed to film their movie in Thailand was not enough, then what about the obvious lack of support from the government for the production of the Hollywood-style movie, which had to be funded through donations.
I urge the people of Taiwan to watch Formosa Betrayed. This is not politically motivated, but historical, as it is perhaps a first step toward opening up about our dark past. The best time for discussion is when the people that lived through that period are still alive, much like the veterans of World War II. Once lost, Taiwan will suffer a blow to its historical identity.
Values at odds
Apropos your report by Loa Iok-sin on the attempt by an environmentalist group to purchase up to 1,000 hectares of land in Changhua County to prevent the construction of a petrochemical plant (“Activists look to buy another 800 hectares of land,” Aug. 21, page 2), perhaps you could send another staff reporter to ask the Miaoli County farmers what they think of the fact that, whereas 50,000 people are apparently prepared to act to save birds and pink dolphins, none of these people were similarly prepared to help save them and their farms from expropriation. Shame on these environmentalists.
To hold up a bird or a dolphin as of greater value than another human being — which is the only calculation that could possibly account for the comparative inaction of these 50,000 people when the Miaoli farmers were having their land stolen by the government — does not bode well for the future of Taiwan. Such people had better not dare to speak of “human rights” in my presence.
Is it not also very ironic that the tactic which these people have adopted — the purchase of land — itself presupposes the integrity of the principle that property be privately owned, ie, the very principle that these people stood back and watched the Miaoli County government trample upon just a few months back?
For shame — and may it stick to their souls like petroleum and never wash off.
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