K’s Room – The Creation and Destruction of the World
K’s room’ is a mental space that serves as a metaphor for the complex relationship between men, boundaries, and the nation state during Taiwan’s martial law period. All the lines in the film were extracted from New English Grammar, one of Taiwan’s most popular English grammar books published in 1960, as a way of reconstructing the mental state of its author Mr. K who was sent to prison due to political reasons.
During the martial law period, a Taiwanese American writer Henry LIU was shot dead by assassin WU Dun. This case was later confirmed to be a political murder jointly committed by the Military Intelligence Bureau and United Bamboo Gang in Taiwan. After being released from prison, WU became a film producer and established a film company that produced ‘wuxia films’. In this film, the filmmaker revisited WU’s abandoned studio to restage the events with forensic scanning techniques.
Rain in 2020 took LEE Yong-chao seven years to make. It shows how a family copes with the changing situation and what is happening in Myanmar. Amid the pandemic in 2020, a torrential rain caused the family and the entire village to soak in the flooding sewage. Nobody knows when the muddy water will be gone and what will come after the storm.
Kaohsiung served as an important military base under Japanese colonial rule and had incurred heavy casualties during the 228 Incident. The film subtly tends to the deep scars of the witnesses, survivors and their descendants as an act of resistance to oblivion. Memories survive through different eras of oppression and continue to live in people’s hearts, just like the wild tomatoes grown in this land.
Since 2009, the filmmaker has spent 12 years documenting the ever-changing times of three townships along the coast of Tainan County, namely Beimen, Jiangjun and Qigu. Through the lenses, human activities are seen closely connected with the surrounding nature, while maintaining its own charm. The film subtly captures a singular way of life and a sense of time suspended in the past, present and future.
As a part of a discussion on memory and detemporality, this work comes in another 3-channel video installation as further dialogue with this single-channel video.
Every November to the following February, a group of Indigenous Taiwanese migrant workers set up the camps along Lanyang River in Yilan County to catch the season's first batch of eel fries. For those four months, these campsites are their home. But no amount of warmth from within the campsite can shield them from the harsh ocean winds, the volatile squatter environment, harassment from local gangs, or a slew of unpredictability that arise from living on unfriendly grounds.
The Islands follows the journey of former student activist CHEN Ting-hao, as he decided to escape the toxic political environment of Taipei City. He ended up landing on Matsu Islands, a political backwater located off the coast of China. Serving as a political staffer managing local affairs, he is forced to ponder on the intricate interplay between political ideals and reality.
He has tattoos. He writes poems. He paints. He has done a few dirty jobs. When he was in prison for the second time, he received a literary award. With a poor sense of direction, he jokes that he needs to ‘design an escape route’ everytime he goes back to his hometown. Carrying 37 keys, he seems to have no idea where life is leading him to. He is always looking for work, friends and love, but gets lost again and again.
Grandma HASHIMA is the last Taiwanese who knows the secrets of ‘Green Jail’, the notorious coal mine before World War II in Okinawa, Japan. With hardly any visitors, she lives alone in an old and shaggy wooden house by the ‘jail on the sea’ where her family once lived, she recounts her experience of the coal mine days on the island. Through her memories of guilt, pain, anger, and the miseries of the past 80 years, this film portrays the last years of Grandma HASHIMA’s life.
Myanmar has the world’s longest ongoing civil war that has spanned more than 70 years. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is the ethnic rebel group most vehemently opposed to the ruling military junta. The protagonist of this film was conscripted into the KIA as a child, transforming him from an innocent kid into a ruthless man who talks about killing without hesitation. With all the wounds and experiences, he is now considering which path to take for the future.
With shot footage as their witness, Taiwanese filmmakers are slowly gaining their ground in the realm of documentary, both the veteran and the up-and-coming. In the 192 entries this year, they cast light on the faces and places of this island and of the world. With the 15 selected titles, come ride on the flow of trance with us, gaze into the strangeness in familiarity, navigate through open and healing wounds, and immerse yourself in the boiling feelings of turning eighteen.