They are Flying (飛行少年) is a documentary directed by Huang Chia-chun (黃嘉俊) about a group of 30 boys from the Faith Hope Love Youth Academy (信望愛少年學園) in Hualian who ride around Taiwan on unicycles.
Like Island Etude it highlights some of Taiwan's beautiful scenery in the journey around the island. However, the real story here is that of the boys and the two men, Reverend Huang (黃明鎮牧師) and Lu Su-wei (盧蘇偉), who inspire and lead them on the ride.
The boys come from troubled backgrounds. Many of them have been victims of domestic violence; some have run away from home and others have been in trouble with the police. The director Huang Chia-chun said that the background of each of the boys could be a documentary in itself, however he could only include the background stories of a few of the boys in the two hour documentary.
While the documentary doesn't go into exacting details about any of the boys' pasts, it gives enough information to enable the viewer to better understand and sympathise with the boys. At times they act in ways that seem unacceptable, but it all becomes understandable once you know some of the trauma and difficulties they have faced in the past.
Reverend Huang comes across as an amazing father figure, always ready to forgive the boys and inspiring them to be something greater than they ever thought they could be. During the documentary Huang says that there are two important things parents give to their children: love and experience. While the Youth Academy can't give children the same love as a parent he hopes he can give them some great experiences to learn from. Similarly Lu Su-wei, who is a youth officer at the Banqiao District Court, makes many sacrifices to give the boys a chance to have a very special experience. At times he is frustrated but ultimately he shares in the success.
The documentary shows learning to ride a unicycle is not easy. It involves falling off many times. In many ways it is a metaphor for the boys' lives. They are Flying is an inspiring and moving documentary. I highly recommend it.
*I saw They are Flying at the Taipei Film Festival. There is a second screening at 14:00 on 2 July at Shinkong Cinema Complex (新光影城).