Film festival to promote dialogue on death penalty issue

The Murder by Numbers Film Festival  (殺人影展3:亞洲與世界的對話), featuring films and documentaries on the theme of the death penalty, is on from 8-10 October in Taipei. It will be followed by screenings in Hsinchu and on university campuses later in the month. The festival coincides with the World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 October.

The festival is the third to be organised by the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (台灣廢除死刑推動聯盟). The first festival was held in 2004 and the second in 2007. The theme of the third festival is a dialogue between Asia and the world. Asia is one of the regions of the world where the death penalty is most frequently carried out. Taiwan had an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty from December 2005 until April this year when four prisoners were executed. These executions again brought the death penalty debate into the spotlight and showed that Taiwanese society is deeply divided on the issue. Events like this film festival provide an important opportunity for people to engage in dialogue about the death penalty issue.

A number of films in the festival either have an English-language soundtrack or subtitles. The opening film of the festival on Friday night is Formosa Homicide Chronicle II, The Case of Lu Cheng. This documentary from Taiwan is about the case of Lu Cheng, a Taiwanese man who was executed for murder in 2000, despite there being major questions about the standard of evidence produced in the court.

There are more films with English soundtrack or subtitles on Saturday. At the Death House Door is a documentary about Pastor Carroll Pickett who was a death house chaplain in Texas. He presided over 95 executions and recorded his experience of each execution on audio tape. The film for the mystery screening on Saturday night has not yet been selected. However, all the films in the selection for the mystery screening have an English-language soundtrack or subtitles.

The closing film on Sunday night, From the Queen to the Chief Executive, is a film from Hong Kong. It is based on the cases of juvenile offenders “detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure” and appeals for justice around the time of Hong Kong’s hand over to China.

The screenings in Taipei are at the Tsai Lecture Hall of the National Taiwan University Law Department. Entry is free. You can register online for tickets and pick up the tickets one hour to half hour an hour before the screening time. If you haven’t registered then tickets are available from half an hour before the screening time.

On 23-24 October the festival is in Hsinchu at the Image Museum of Hsinchu City. There are also campus screenings during October at National Cheng Kung University (10/15), National Chung Cheng University (10/18-19), Yu Shan Theological College (10/18), Providence University (10/19) and Chung Yuan University (10/20). To check the exact times of screenings, map of the venues or register go to the festival’s website at http://taedp-film2010.blogspot.com.