Four directors invited their fathers to star in a film adapted from the life story of White Terror era writer SHIH Ming-cheng. The fathers are asked to take on the roles of dissidents in the 1980s. They began with acting and imitating the dissidents of their own imagination, but as the plot advances they became entangled in their own past, and the film captured the reflection and introspection of their lives.
Dafen, the heart of Yushan National Park, is a place abundant in wildlife and indigenous culture. With the assistance of an indigenous hunter, a female ecologist started her journey searching for Formosan Black Bears in 1998. In the midst of this wilderness, they gradually developed a deep and sincere companionship. Together with copious research, the secret of the Taiwan Black Bear is thus revealed.
T. S. ELIOT: ‘What might have been is an abstraction remaining a perpetual possibility only in a world of speculation.’ About the past, my memories are fading and my past self is also vanishing. This film explores the relation between ‘I’ and its image, body, memory and death.
The loneliness of the ocean and various legal restrictions have made the islanders of Taiwan think twice about getting close to the water. This film follows an ordinary citizen who builds a vessel on his own and hopes to sail in the surrounding waters of his country. It not only depicts the dreams and perspectives of seafarers, but also talks about Taiwan’s and other Austronesian nations’ effort in reviving navigation.
HSU Tzu-chiang was pronounced guilty and sentenced to death in a 1995 kidnapping and murder case despite the lack of forensic evidence. After a 16-year effort by NGOs, HSU was released with a life sentence in 2016. Now out of prison, he continues the fight to prove his innocence. Director CHI began documenting HSU’s story in 2012 and was brought face-to-face with the shortcomings of society.
In Taiwan, a dead body used for medical dissection is called ‘a silent teacher’. This film tells the story of Mrs LIN, whose body will be dissected the next year. In the dissection class, Mrs LIN, the ‘silent teacher’ will definitely teach the medical students and her family more about the meaning of life.
During the Chinese Civil War, some KMT forces retreated over the borders of Thailand and Myanmar. Under international pressure, most of these troops were evacuated to Taiwan in 1961, yet some remained. In northern Thailand and in central Taiwan, the two groups shared similar destiny. Now, over 50 years later, their differences emerge and their next generation struggles with their identity.
My youngest granduncle is the photographer in my extended family. On every special occasion, we always see him moving about with a camera. Switching from analogue to digital compact cameras, he documents the happiness and sorrow, life and death of family members. One day he asked me to make a ‘retrospective film’ to be played at his funeral. I took on this assignment and began a journey with him.
Somewhere in northern Myanmar, there is a forest rich in amber and controlled by the Kachin Independence Army. Most of the inhabitants there make a living by finding amber as it is their only hope to get out of poverty. They work under harsh conditions and rest while fearing the attack from the government army. Life there is despairing, like the darkness at the bottom of the mine.
Two journeys take place in two different periods. One is a return by rail, passing through two continents. The other is an old family photograph tracing wartime life. The rhythmic swaying of the train merges the past and the present and reveals a forgotten memory, which has been covered by dust for a long time.
15 titles out of 187 entries made up the shortlist of this year’s Taiwan Competition. While first-time nominees manifest sturdy and astonishing energy in filmmaking, veteran filmmakers cast humanitarian vision into different corners. This programme consists of remarkable Taiwanese documentaries in the past two years.