Reel Revelations: 2024 TIDF Showcases Rare Cinematic Treasures in “Reel Taiwan” and “Taiwan Spectrum”

Once again, the Taiwan International Documentary Festival (TIDF) organized by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (TFAI) , scheduled from May 10th to May 19th, 2024, is poised to unveil treasures of Taiwan’s cinematic history. The festival's “Reel Taiwan” section will spotlight Taiwan’s largest experimental documentary project to date, presenting avant-garde short films series Floating Islands exploring Taiwan’s outlying islands. Meanwhile, the “Taiwan Spectrum” section, themed “Untitled Reel: Amateur, Small-gauge Films and Others," will delve into amateur films shot on formats smaller than 35mm, capturing the essence of everyday life.


Floating Islands is a series of documentary shorts focusing on Taiwan’s outlying islands, produced between 1999 and 2000 by the Firefly Image Company. The project was spearheaded by Zero CHOU, who also served as a director in this ambitious endeavor that brought together 12 filmmakers from different generations. The resulting series of avant-garde documentaries offers subjective perspectives and reflects individual exploration processes. After twenty-four years, the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute digitized these invaluable reels for re-screening at this festival. TIDF programmer CHEN Wanling stated, “Looking back now, we realize how much these works challenged traditional documentary aesthetics at that time. Additionally, we hope that this retrospective will inspire our audience to reconsider the relationship between the 'main island' and the 'outlying islands'."


Highlights include CHEN Singing’s Who's Fishing®? (2000), delving into the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, SHEN Ko-shang's Silent Delta (2000), which focuses on three northern islands, and Zero CHOU’s Before the Radiation (2000) on Wuqiu Island residents’ resistance against a nuclear waste storage site amidst the temptations of cash rewards and job opportunities.


Who's Fishing®? (2000), Silent Delta (2000)

Before the Radiation (2000)


In its long-standing “Taiwan Spectrum” section, themed “Untitled Reel: Amateur, Small-Gauge Films, and Others", the TIDF will unveil a collection of amateur films shot between the 1920s and 1970s, providing a captivating glimpse into the memories and worldviews of ordinary Taiwanese citizens. Despite their absence from mainstream film history, these films serve as invaluable records of historical traces, including colonization, displacement, modernization, and societal evolution in Taiwan.

TIDF Programme Director Wood LIN emphasized the meticulous curation process spanning two years, which involved sourcing decades-old, predominantly 'untitled' home movies from the TFAI archive and public contributions. The programme, featuring lectures, screenings, live cinema, lecture performance and interactive exhibition, offers profound insights into the historical context and technological innovations of the time.


The section will kick off from the end of April, with an introductory lecture by co-curator Professor SU Ui-tiok from National Central University on April 28th at the TFAI. Organized thematically and chronologically, the programme will span 50 years, starting with the "Brief History of 9.5mm Films in Taiwan'' and concluding with "HSU Tsang-tse’s Home Movies (1960-1970)." Expert speakers will be invited to each session to introduce the footage and provide insights into its historical context and the filmmaking technology prevalent during that era.


"Brief History of 9.5mm Films in Taiwan'', "HSU Tsang-tse’s Home Movies (1960-1970)"


The section also features two programmes by young filmmakers HUANG Pang-Chuan and Chunni LIN, namely “Lecture Performance: Re-discovery of Deng Nan-guang’s 8mm Films” and This Is Not a Film by Deng Nan-guang (2023). The latter, reassembles archival footage, raising questions about the authorship of films attributed to Taiwan’s renowned early filmmaker-photographer Deng Nan-guang and proposing alternative origins. This innovative work will be showcased as a "Live Cinema" performance, accompanied by three Taiwan-based musicians Arnaud LECHAT, Coordt LINKE, and Daniel DITLEVSON.


This Is Not a Film by Deng Nan-guang (2023), “Lecture Performance: Re-discovery of Deng Nan-guang’s 8mm Films”


Additionally, an interactive exhibition titled "Small-gauge Corner You Can Touch, Read and Watch Films" will open from April 24th to showcase equipment for small-gauge films from both the TFAI and private collection, providing audiences with an immersive exploration of amateur film production.

The 14th Taiwan International Documentary Festival will unfold at venues including the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute in New Taipei City, SPOT-Huashan, Vie Show Cinemas Taipei Q Square, and the Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB). Festival Ticket Packages are available for early purchase starting from April 10th, with Individual Ticket sales beginning at 13:00 on April 17th. For the latest updates, please visit the TIDF official website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information.