The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is to screen several restored Hoklo-language films from the 1960s as part of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
The “Dreaming Impossible Dreams” virtual film series is to stream six black-and-white Taiwanese movies, including The Husband’s Secret (丈夫的秘密), Fantasy of the Deer Warrior (大俠梅花鹿), Little Heroes vs Two Masked Villains (雙雄大鬥雙假面), Romance at Lungshan Temple (龍山寺之戀), The Best Secret Agent (天字第一號) and Six Suspects (六個嫌疑犯).
The low-budget films were among more than 1,200 black-and-white movies featuring actors speaking primarily Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) in the 1950s and 1960s, but only about 200 of the movies from that era have been identified and catalogued, the museum said in a statement.
The online series, which runs from May 18-31, “completely shatters preconceptions about the Taiwanese New Wave and Second New Wave periods” of cinema, the museum said.
Despite being made during the Martial Law era, when the government was promoting films that focused on “positive themes” and “traditional values,” these movies explored themes of longing, lust, adventure and fantasy.
“The 1960s was the golden age of Taiwanese-language film production, but most reels have been lost or destroyed,” the Taiwan Academy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles said on Friday.
A small selection of the films are being restored by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute to make them suitable for theatrical viewing, the museum said.
As part of a digital restoration project, the institute in the past few years has been helping to restore films from this era, the academy said.
The upcoming screening would be the first time that the museum has featured Hoklo films to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.
To help foreign audiences better understand the Taiwanese films, the curators of the series produced six “bonus content” videos, with guests such as Taiwanese-American author Charles Yu (游朝凱), who won the 2020 National Book Award for his novel Interior Chinatown and also wrote for the HBO series Westworld.
Although the online series is free, viewers must RSVP at www.lacma.org/event/dreaming.
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