If a weekend of imbibing alternative films and having a relaxed time quaffing beer with friends sounds intriguing, you need look no further than the Urban Nomad Film Fest (
Coming into its fifth year, the independent showcase presents a content-rich lineup of 40 works featuring surf and skateboard videos, short films, animations and documentaries made by underground talents from home and abroad.
Organized by the expat duo David Frazier and Sean Scanlan, Urban Nomad was set up with the aim of preserving underground creativity and demonstrating that the media is a democratic tool accessible to anyone who has something to say.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF URBAN NOMAD
"When people make films, they want the works to be seen. So we try to be more flexible about the deadline ... and screen as many of the submitted works as possible," co-founder Scanlan said.
As this year's focus is on alternative visions and documentaries, the festival offers an exciting mixture of works addressing political and social issues and subcultures from different regions, especially from the southeastern Asian countries including Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.
One such film is Singapore Rebel. Banned in Singapore, the documentary is an emotionally-charged account of the political dissenter and opposition leader Chee Soon Juan, who, since 1992, has taken up the valiant mission to challenge the authoritarianism of the People's Action Party (PAP). He subsequently lost his job as a university professor, and was eventually forced into bankrupcy.
The film offers a rare chance for outsiders to see how the PAP uses oppressive methods to silence political opponents like Chee in the name of building a modern Asian society.
As co-founder and organizer Frazier said alternative film scenes in southeastern Asian countries have enjoyed strong growth in recent years. And as a young and growing alternative venue, Urban Nomad has reached out this year to fringe film festivals and curators in Thailand and the Philippines to bring out new underground voices.
"Ideally, we want Urban Nomad to become part of the underground network in Southeast Asia. Kids and young people in different places should understand each other through alternative media as opposed to big film festivals or dominant TV channels," Frazier said.
Representing the promising future of the local film community is Respire (
Highly stylish and poetically shot, the low-budget film is an inspiring example of how a work of art can be produced despite certain limitations. It was shot with old, sometimes even moldy, film rolls collected from commercial production houses in Taipei.
If you missed the opening film Surviving Beijing (
Idealistic and optimistic at first, the group settles down in the now bulldozed "Tree Village" in the suburb of Beijing, a legendary settlement of rock musicians and social drop-outs.
The film follows the failing attempts of the Malaysian rockers to get gigs and mingle with the tough crowds, and gives audiences an insight into the urban tribe of rockers who don't fit in to the fast-changing society and choose to live in poverty and make music as a social protest against China's rapid development toward capitalism.
For those who feel the three-hour-long programs of experimental film is just too much, there is a chill-out space for visitors to walk around, sip beer and enjoy a good chat with friends or strangers. At Urban Nomad, visitors will not find dark, confining theaters, but a film party where people are free to share their thoughts and feelings with other individuals.
What: Urban Nomad Film Fest (城市游牧影展)
Where: Huashan Cultural Center (華山文化園區), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei (臺北市八德路一段1號)
When: Tonight beginning at 7:30pm; tomorrow and Sunday at 7pm.
Tickets: NT$200 for one day; NT$500 for a four-day festival pass.
For more information on films to be screened, visit www.urbannomadfilmfest.blogspot.com
Last week I had an experience that I suspect has become quite common for foreigners living in Taiwan: talking to a Taiwanese who was an ardent fan of soon-to-be-former US President Donald Trump. As I was heading for the stairs to my apartment, my landlady stopped me, eyes alight, with an idea for what to do about storing my bike downstairs. The conversation eventually veered into politics, and for a full 35 minutes she held forth on the manifold greatness of world-savior Donald Trump. She’s neither unkind nor a fool. Pro-Taiwan, she detests former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese
Jan. 18 to Jan. 24 Viewers couldn’t believe their eyes when the Taipei First Girls’ Senior High School marching band appeared on television in 1981. None of the girls were sporting the government-mandated hairstyle for female secondary school students, which forbade their hair from going past their neck. Some even had perms. The students had been invited to perform in the US, which the government saw as an important affair since the US had severed official ties two years earlier. The idea was that sending a group of girls with the same permitted hairstyle would appear contradictory to
A new section of Taipei City bike path will open soon along the southern bank of Jingmei River (景美溪). Discovery of this missing link by members of Skeleton Crew, a Taipei-based group of cyclists that grew out of off-season training by dragon boat racers, reignited debate about how many kilometers of bike path there now are in Taipei. Their guesstimates ranged from 60 to almost 400 kilometers, though calculations used different criteria and definitions. Some said “Taipei means Taipei City,” others that this would be silly since it was too easy to cross unknowingly into New Taipei City, Keelung City
Decapitated and eviscerated, the two frogs lay on their backs in a clear broth. Noticing that other diners didn’t hesitate to pile toothpick-thin bones and bits of mottled skin on their tables, I set to work with chopsticks and spoon. I was winding up a day trip to Beigang (北港), the religious capital of Yunlin County, when I strolled east onto Minjhu Road (民主路) from Wenhua Road (文化路) and came across this eatery. I’d gone to the intersection to see an obelisk that honors the man regarded as Beigang’s founding father. The Yan Si-ci Pioneering of Taiwan Monument (顏思齊開拓台灣紀念碑) celebrates