Back in January 2009 I attended a screening of the documentary “Voices from the South: Kaohsiung’s Independent Music Scene” at The Wall in Taipei. The documentary, directed by Don Quan, was about the indie music scene in Kaohsiung. The film followed the fortunes five Kaohsiung bands and four of these bands (KoOk, Orange Doll (橘娃娃), Shy Kick Apple (害羞踢蘋果) and Fire Ex (滅火器)) also performed at The Wall following the documentary screening which made it a unique experience.
Four years have now passed since Don Quan made the original documentary and he is now planning a follow up titled “Dig The New Breed: Voices From The South Part II.” I contacted Don by e-mail to ask him some questions about his new documentary project and the current state of the indie music scene in Kaohsiung. Continue reading →
Smangus: A Year in the Clouds, a documentary about the Atayal community of Smangus, will screen on Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS) tonight (30 June). The documentary had its premiere in Smangus on Tuesday night. It is a co-production between PTS and British documentary makers Dean Johnson and Frank Smith. The team filmed various aspects of the daily life in Smangus over a period of 15 months.
Voices in the Clouds (眾族同聲) had its Taiwan premiere at the closing of the Urban Nomad Film Festival in Taipei on Sunday night. The documentary is a moving and personal story of a man’s search for identity and belonging.
Tony Coolidge was born in Taiwan, but moved to the United States of America with his mother and step-father at a young age. While growing up in the USA his mother kept details of her life in Taiwan hidden. She encouraged her children to speak English so they could fit in. A year after his mother passed away from cancer Tony returned to Taiwan to meet his mother’s family. Only then did he discover that his family were indigenous people belonging to the Atayal group.
After making this discovery Tony returned to Taiwan again several years later along with his younger brother and Taiwanese wife to further explore his roots and connections with Taiwan’s indigenous people. His journey of self-discovery takes him into indigenous communities around Taiwan. Continue reading →
Dr Walther and Klaus Bardenhagen have co-produced a documentary about the biodiversity crisis called Crisis of Life. It features interviews with a number of leading scientists. The trailer of the documentary is embedded above and you can watch more videos on the website.
The 2010 Urban Nomad Film Festival (城市遊牧影展) began on Friday night with the Taiwan premiere of The Cove at the Armed Forces Cultural Centre in Taipei. The Cove won the 2010 Academy Award for best documentary and the premiere was ahead of the documentary’s general release in Taiwan on 7 May. Continue reading →
Paris, Taipei: Bicycles Forever (巴黎.台北 單車萬歲) is a documentary directed by Jean-Robert Thomann (尚若白). It looks at the experience of bicycle commuters in Paris and Taipei. I went to the premiere screening at Eslite Dunnan Bookstore today and it will screen on PTS (公視) tomorrow.
The documentary explores the attitudes of those who have chosen to use a bicycle as their primary form of transport. It looks at both the positives and negatives of this lifestyle choice. The people featured are quite a diverse group. I thought the most interesting one was a woman who uses a bicycle to send her two children to school. If only more people in Taipei would follow her example.
The documentary also considers the development of bicycle paths and bike sharing systems. Taipei’s U-bike system obviously lags a long way behind Paris’s Velib system. It shows that while there have been some improvements in Taipei, the city still has a long way to go before it provides a friendly environment for bicycle commuters.
I saw the short film Msgamil: Once Upon a Time (泰雅千年) while visiting Smangus in August last year. I then saw Through Thousands Years* (走過千年) at the Ethnographic Film Festival. Msgamil is a short film produced by Chen Wen-bin (陳文彬) about the historical migration of the Atayal. Through Thousands Years, by the Atayal director Pilin Yabu, documents the process of the making of Msgamil.
I recently visited Taichung to talk with Dr Lin Yih-ren (林益仁) at Providence University (靜宜大學). Dr Lin very kindly gave me DVDs of both films and also two books about the production of the films. The books, titled Words from Yaba (Chinese: Yaba的訪; Atayal: Kay na yaba), are both bi-lingual with one edition in Chinese and Atayal and the other in English and Atayal. The text is beautifully illustrated by Wang Yong-cheng (王永成) and also includes photos from the making of the films. Continue reading →
After a resurgence in 2008 on the back of the success of Cape No. 7 (海角七號), Taiwanese cinema quietly consolidated in 2009. While there were no great successes at the box office there were a number of quality films released.
A key point is that many directors struck a good balance between artistic merit and commercial value. However, this still hasn’t translated into success at the box office. While the government has provided financial support to the film industry, there is perhaps a need for more intervention by mandating the screening of more local content in cinemas. Continue reading →