TAIWAN FILM FESTIVAL 2008
This spring, film aficionados will have the opportunity to see six award-winning Taiwanese films at the 2008 Taiwan Film Festival presented by the Taipei Liaison Office in South Africa in conjunction with Cinema Nouveau.
The film festival will be held at Johannesburg’s Rosebank Nouveau from 12 to 18 September and Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront Nouveau from 19 to 25 September. Entrance is free and screenings will take place every evening at 17h30 and 20h15.
The film festival provides locals with the opportunity to experience the rich texture of Taiwan’s unique filmmaking style, and it is hoped that the event will raise awareness of Taiwan and encourage greater interaction between the people of South Africa and Taiwan.
Just as SA is proud of actresses Charlize Theron and Terry Pheto, Taiwan is proud of her women filmmakers. Some outstanding female directors have emerged from Taiwan in recent years and include the likes of Singing Chen, Professor Yu-shan Huang, Zero Chou and Wen-chen Tseng. The film festival primarily aims to showcase the excellent work of these four ladies.
Singing Chen is no stranger to South Africa having participated in the 29th Durban International Film Festival, where her new film God Man Dog just won the award for the Best Screenplay. God Man Dog is an unconventional film that explores the way in which people’s lives converge in the aftermath of a fateful accident. Born in 1974, Singing Chen is the youngest director to be showcased this festival. She burst onto the movie scene in 2001 with the release of her first full-length feature, Bundled, which dealt with the plight of the homeless.
Prof. Huang is perhaps one of the most underrated directors in Chinese-language cinema with a career that spans a quarter century, going back to 1983 when she made first film Ju Ming, a 15 minute documentary about a Taiwanese sculptor. Prof. Huang is a tremendously active artist and over the years she has produced twenty feature films and documentaries. In 1993, she founded Taiwan’s influential “Women Make Waves Film Festival” in order to give female directors a platform to showcase their work. This festival will present Prof. Huang’s The Song of Chatain Mountain which depicts the intellectual tyranny of Taiwan’s Japanese occupiers during the Second World War.
Taiwanese filmmaker Zero Chou is a former journalist who made her first movie in 1996 while still studying at university. Ms. Chou has been proclaimed as one of the most talented documentary filmmakers that Taiwan has produced in recent years. She is also one of the world’s few openly lesbian filmmakers and her new feature, Spider Lilies, tells the story of two young women who rekindle a dormant love for each other.
Wen-chen Tseng is a young director whose film about a Taiwanese labor activist, Spring: the Story of Hsu Chin-Yu, won the Award for the best documentary at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Festival in 2002. Ms. Tseng’s later documentary Madame Chiang Kai-shek produced for Taiwan Public Television has also received wide acclaim and tops best-seller lists. Ms. Tseng’s debut feature Fishing Luck, to be screened this festival, is a romantic comedy set on a small tropical island off the south-east coast of Taiwan.
Perhaps the most inspired offering this festival is Mr. Yu-hsien Lin’s documentary Jump! Boys. Mr. Lin started off his career making television commercials but soon developed a flair for directing dramas and documentaries about contemporary Taiwan. His film Jump! Boys shows that some dreams do indeed come true; seven school boys have a strong passion for gymnastics and this leads them to Taiwan’s national championship competition.
The film festival would, of course, be incomplete without the inclusion of Ang Lee, who is one of Taiwan’s favourite sons. Ang Lee has been a prolific maker of internationally acclaimed feature films since the early nineties, and is now the top Asian director in Hollywood. He has produced 11 major feature films so far and is, at present, working on another two projects. His most notable successes have been Sense and Sensibility, which was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Brokeback Mountain, which won the Academy Award for Best Director. This year’s festival will showcase Ang Lee’s martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.