Taiwan Film Festival

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Beyond the New Wave

The 2006 Taiwan Film Festival, to be held at Berkeley, Stanford, Brigham Young, and the University of Washington in September-October 2006, will showcase eight feature and documentary films that reflect the quality, range, and vitality of contemporary Taiwanese film-making.

Taiwanese film has moved far beyond the formulaic melodramas, teen romance, and kung-fu films of the 1950s and 1960s as well as the breakthrough “New Wave” of the 1980s. New Wave masters like Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang made Taiwanese cinema world-famous, with their realist, non-narrative films focused on exploring Taiwanese history and telling the stories of ordinary people.

Since the New Wave, Taiwanese cinema has evolved in many directions: refreshing new takes on Taiwan’s buried past (Viva Tonal – The Dance Age, The Strait Story) and Taiwan’s conflicted relationship with the Mainland (Secret Love for the Peach Blossom Spring, How High is the Mountain?), a new focus on women, gender issues, and sexuality (Murmur of Youth, Tigerwomen Grow Wings), and exuberant celebrations of youth and popular culture (Love Go Go, Ocean Fever). More than ever, Taiwanese filmmaking today shows a wide range of styles, subject matter, and mood.

Something altogether new is the explosion of high-quality documentary films. Fuelled by ongoing debates over Taiwanese identity as well as the spread of inexpensive digital cameras and editing software, documentary films in Taiwan have soured in number and in popularity. They have also been winning critical acclaim both at home and abroad.

Nonetheless – and far more so than feature films – even the best of these documentaries are rarely screened and little known in the U.S. This festival aims to fill this gap, presenting the best in recent documentary films paired with feature films that explore similar themes. The series will also feature the latest work by the renowned German filmmaker Monica Treut, an engaging portrait of three women in modern Taiwan (including filmmaker DJ Chen).

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