Independent Filmmakers Are Not Alone – “Salute! Chinese Independent Documentaries” in Taiwan International Documentary Festival As An Important Platform
“We won’t stop! We won’t stop! We won’t stop!” A group of spectators shouted, with candles in their hands. This is one of the most impressive scenes in A Filmless Festival, made by Chinese independent filmmaker WANG Wo. In 2014, the two organizers of Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF) LI Xianting and WANG Hongwei were detained by the police. The festival was once again suspended. In the same evening, supporters, despite the officials' violent suppression earlier that day, surrounded the Song Zhuang local police station and refused to leave.
Since 2013, BIFF has been suffering disruptions, power outage and many inexplicable interference by the officials. This tremendous obstacle has taken its toll on creative, talented, independent filmmakers in China. The 10th Taiwan International Documentary Festival, takes place on May 6 to 15, organizes a special program named “Salute! Chinese Independent Documentaries”. In this section, 10 brilliant titles, including ZHAO Liang’s Behemoth, The Chinese Mayor by ZHOU Hao, The Road by ZHANG Zanbo, and CHAN Tze-woon's Yellowing on the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, will be screened to pay respect and admiration to these unremitting filmmakers. In the hope that the festival serves as an important platform for these films to reach a more audience. Just like what was said in A Filmless Festival: “Indie filmmakers are not alone”.
The Road, a Fable Under the Era of Fast Development
In addition to the Venice Film Festival Behemoth, and the winner of 2015 Best Documentary from Golden Horse The Chinese Mayor, the program of “Salute! Chinese Independent Documentaries” includes the latest titles by more experienced independent filmmakers, including ZHANG Zanbo, who just won the Grand Prize of 2015 Taipei International Book Exhibition for his documentary literature “The Road”, has just finished the documentary film under the same title The Road. The story happened under the backdrop of a highway construction through a quiet village in Hunan province, focusing on workers, contractors, officials, gangsters, and villagers. The Road is a fable under the era of fast development, unveiling the struggle of the individuals as well as the twisted interest groups . This will also mark the first appearance in Asia of the complete edition of The Road.
Director GU Tao has been continuously focusing on the ethnic minorities in China. His Yuguo and His Mother won the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize in Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in 2011. The Last Moose of Aoluguya was nominated for Best Documentary in 2015 Golden Horse Awards. The latest The Shaman's Journey documented a shaman traveled all the way from inner Mongolia to Beijing under the guidance of the shaman’s tradition to search for a handful of lion's mane to strengthen his magic power. The seemingly humorous journey reflects the huge gap between the simplicity of the ethnic minority and the modern society. The screening at TIDF will also be the world premiere of The Shaman's Journey.
Whilst WANG Wo's A Filmless Festival is a collage with gathered materials and footages, exposing the brutal and absurd reality on the suspension of Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF), Rooms with Mao's Images conveys the “God” that became folk’s spiritual symbol in this atheist nation with the Mao portraits in various rooms.
In addition, filmmaker CUI Yi, currently based in Canada, will take part at the 10th TIDF with her latest work Of Shadows which has been receiving positive feedbacks since its world premiere at International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film discovers the creative world of a traditional shadow theatre in Chinese Loess Plateau, poetically captured the inner vitality of this grassroots art. Sometimes ironic and other times concerning, Of Shadows presents the complicated roles of these artists at the crossroad of the ever changing time, reflecting the survival issue of cultural heritage in modern time.
Yellowing Grasp the Original Intention of the 2014 Umbrella Revolution
Whilst the more experienced filmmakers keeping their footing on the documentary soil, emerging younger generation also starts creating places of their own. LI Wei and JIANG Jijie are both the so-called “Post-90s generation” and just finished their dynamic debuts. Their works demonstrate powerful imagery and profound solicitude. Enclave unfolds the conflicted values of the locals and the volunteer teachers against the backdrop of a remote village in the mountains of Sichuan Province, questioning the ambivalent values between modernization and undeveloped. Yun Zi closely follows a pair of teenage twin sisters who dropped out of school to contribute to the financial difficulty of their family. Frequent abuse from family members forces the audience to look into the cruel, yet, real childhood.
Yellowing is the only documentary from Hong Kong in the 10th TIDF. Director CHAN Tze-woon participated the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong with his camera, recorded the actions carried out by the citizens after the police deployed tear gas against the protestors. Yellowing portrays the idea and desperation of the young generation. The film received much attention from the Hong Kong audiences with sold-out screenings. “Hong Kong is about to face an even more difficult situation. I was not sure if the participants of the 2014 Umbrella Revolution could continue on with their believes and original intention, so I decided to make this documentary film as a memo” said CHAN Tze-woon.
In addition to the screenings, TIDF also organized a “Chinese Independent Documentary Forum” on May 12. The event invites Curator of Hong Kong Independent Film Festival Vincent CHUI, director CHAN Tze-woon, GU Tao, ZHAO Liang, and ZHANG Zanbo, sharing their thoughts and opinions on the importance and existence of independent documentary films. Admission to the forum is free. Please visit TIDF official website for reservation.
The 10th TIDF will take place on May 6 to May 15 at Shin Kong Cineplex, SPOT Huashan and various venues in Taipei. For more information, please visit www.tidf.org.tw
*For more information of “Salute! Chinese Independent Documentaries”, please visit here.
*For more information of forum "Chinese Independent Documentary Forum", please visit here.