Waise Azimi, the director of Standing Up
The 2008 Urban Nomad Film Festival kicked off on Thursday night with a screening of Standing Up at Capone's Restaurant in Taipei. The documentary by Waise Azimi tracked a group of recruits in the Afghan Army going through their training. It gave some good insights into the lives of the soldiers and the challenges they face in Afghanistan. However, at more than two hours long it would have benefited from tighter editing. Azimi was at the screening and answered questions from the audience afterwards.
Outdoor screening at the Taipei Artist Village
Last night I attended the screening at Taipei Artist Village (台北藝術村). The outdoor venue has a great atmosphere (watch out for the mosquitoes though). The evening kicked off with part one of The Perverts Guide to Cinema. A selection of short videos, mostly from Taiwan, then followed. The highlight was undoubtedly Hiya, a 28 minute film about the misadventures of some young Taiwanese men waiting to do their military service. I also really enjoyed A Good Reason (一個好理由) and the wonderful animation work of Woodman 3 Hot Fighting (木偶人3熱鬥). The evening was rounded out by Who is Bozo Texino? a great documentary from the US shot on black and white film.
While watching these videos I was struck by the thought that 90 minute feature films need not be the standard fare of cinemas. Urban Nomad provides a wonderful outlet for productions which don't fit in with commercial demands, but are still interesting and entertaining. This was one of the best cinematic experiences I have had for a while.
The festival continues with a party at Paris Nightclub tonight (Saturday 26 April) and then screenings at Taipei Artist Village from Sunday to Friday night. And if you miss out on these events, the most popular films will be screened again at the Nanhai Gallery (南海藝郎) on 3 & 4 May.