Taiwanese cinema wins at Busan Film Festival

Despite being plunged into the shadow of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Taiwanese film industry continued to thrive in 2021. This is thanks to precautions taken at the local level, enabling a wide range of new works. to flourish.

The industry’s continued productivity is evident in the number of Taiwanese films that are screened at the Busan International Film Festival this year. Nine Taiwanese projects form part of the official sections of the South Korea-based festival, displaying an abundance of creative energy and marking the opening of an exciting new chapter in Taiwanese cinema.

The A Window on Asian Cinema section of the festival features four Taiwanese selections: “Days Before the Millennium”, “Increasing Echo”, “Moneyboys” and “The Falls”.

Chang Teng-Yuan’s first feature film Days Before the Millennium is an ambitious historical epic that shows the struggles of Vietnamese migrants newly arrived in Taiwan.

Accomplished cinematographer Chienn Hsiang’s second directing effort, “Increasing Echo,” was part of the festival’s Asian project market in 2017, and now the completed film will make its world premiere at the festival as an official selection. Chen Shiang-Chyi stars as a repressed wife who finally unleashes years of pent-up frustration and resentment towards her husband (Chen Yi-Wen) after receiving a distressing phone call.

“Moneyboys”, a co-production between Taiwan, Austria, France and Belgium, has been the subject of much discussion since its premiere in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this summer. The highly anticipated LGBTQ + drama explores the value gap between urban and rural areas thanks to the country’s rapid development.

And Taiwanese author Chung Mong-Hong’s pandemic story “The Falls” will be presented to Asian audiences at BIFF after being screened in Venice and Toronto earlier this year.

Several expected Taiwanese documentaries can be found in the Wide Angle section of BIFF: “Taste of Wild Tomato”, “Crossing’s End” and “Rain in 2020”.

“Taste of Wild Tomato”, a new work by Lau Kek-Huat, looks at one of the most traumatic events in Taiwanese history, an infamous massacre that took place on February 28, 1947, known as name of “the 228 incident”. This anti-government uprising was brutally suppressed; thousands died. Lau weaves archival footage with modern interviews, reflecting on Taiwan’s historic scars and offering new perspectives on its history.

“Crossing’s End,” directed by reform activist and advocate Shih Yu-Lun, delves deeply into the controversial Houfeng Bridge case, in which two Taiwanese men were wrongly convicted of murder. Shih has spent years following the accused and their families, offering multiple points of view and dialectical perspectives. Both defendants were acquitted of all charges in 2019, making the film’s premiere particularly meaningful and timely.

Then there’s “Rain in 2020,” the latest from Myanmar-born director Lee Yong-Chao, whose works have been shown at festivals around the world. With “Rain in 2020,” Lee spent seven years documenting a family in Myanmar as they faced flooding caused by the country’s rainy season. The impact of the pandemic is exposed through their daily conversations and illuminated by subtle details, capturing the changing times and the lives of ordinary people.

BIFF’s wide-angle Asian shorts competition features “Good Day,” the debut film by renowned cinematographer Zhang Zhi-Teng. Clever and humorous, this short film presents a precise description of the family “adventure” of a father who failed one day in a typhoon.

The anthology “Lives of Crime” by Taiwanese-Bolivian producer Estela Valdivieso Chen will be part of BIFF’s Asian Projects Marketplace. Directed by four talented emerging directors – Hsieh Pei-Ju, Yang Chieh, Lee I-Hui and Huang Dan-Chi – co-written by Wang Jen-Fang and produced by Hazel Wu, the innovative anthology is told from different perspectives of women in crime.

Courtesy of TAICCA

This year, the Taiwan Creative Content Agency also actively participated in the Asian content and film market of BIFF. As a representative of Taiwanese cinema, TAICCA released 55 new Taiwanese works, including the comedy “Treat or Trick”, which won the Jury’s Choice at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival; “Jang-Gae: The Foreigner,” a selection from the Jeonju International Film Festival; the coming-of-age adventure animation “The City of Lost Things”, which made its international premiere at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival; and “Final Exam,” which premiered in North America at the Seattle International Film Festival.

For more information on these films, visit the TAICCA website and watch its showreel.

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About Monty S. Maynard

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