The Falls (瀑布) by Chung Mong-hong (鍾孟宏) is Taiwan’s selection to vie for a Best International Feature Film nomination at the 94th Academy Awards, the third time one of the director’s films has been chosen and the second year in a row.
Upon being informed that his feature film would have the chance to be nominated for an Oscar, Chung — a 55-year-old with six directorial works — said: “Thank you. We will keep working hard.”
A panel convened by the Ministry of Culture’s Bureau of Audiovisual and Music Industry Development selected The Falls from among 11 candidates, praising its accurate and deep portrayal of reality.
“Visual metaphors and human relations are depicted vividly,” the ministry said.
The previous two films of Chung’s that were selected were Soul (失魂) in 2013 and A Sun (陽光普照) in 2019, with the latter being critically acclaimed and shortlisted for the this year’s Academy Awards, although it was ultimately not nominated.
Set during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Falls follows a 17-year-old who is sent home to quarantine after a classmate tests positive for COVID-19 and her mother, who is asked to take a leave of absence.
The two are isolated in their apartment, which is wrapped in blue construction tarp amid renovation work.
Their relationship takes an unexpected turn.
The Falls premiered in the Horizons section of the Venice Film Festival, followed by an screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.
It received 11 nominations at the 58th Golden Horse Awards, including Best Feature Film and two Best Leading Actress slots.
“To me, this film is not about the pandemic, or the virus. The pandemic is only a backdrop,” Chung told Variety in an interview.
“I wanted to make a film about the search for something that we have long lost or forgotten, like trust or tolerance. Those really good, precious things in life that have gone missing,” he told the magazine.
It is the first time he has told a story from the perspective of female characters.
“The casting of the two female leads was a big gamble,” Chung said.
“Although the pandemic has pulled us apart, people need to think about how to get closer,” Chung said, adding that he hopes The Falls generates discussion about interpersonal relations, Chinese-language media quoted him as saying.
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