Co-hosted by Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles and UCLA Film & Television Archive, What Time Is It There? Taiwanese Film Biennial is presenting the west coast premiere of Chen Mei-Juin’s The Gangster’s Daughter as the opening night film for the 2017 film series, accompanied by a rare opportunity to meet the director herself as well as participate in the Q&A session after the screening. The Biennial brings forth a diverse slate of over a dozen feature films, short films, documentaries, and rare restored classics from Taiwanese filmmakers. Tickets to the screenings will be available for purchase to the public, and all films will be presented at the Billy Wilder Theater located inside the Hammer Museum.
The main title of the series, “What Time Is It There?,” references the classic Taiwanese film of the same name by renowned film director Tsai Ming-liang. Previously championed by UCLA Film & Television Archive as the title of its 2014 “Taiwan as Crossroads” series, the same title will now be carried on by the Biennial to further its legacy of not only channeling the spirit of imagination and innovation in Taiwanese cinema, but also celebrating the ongoing importance and diversity of Taiwanese filmmaking since the emergence of famous auteurs like Hou Hsiao-hsien, Edward Yang, Ang Lee and Tsai Ming-liang himself in the 1980s and 1990s.
Scheduled between October 20th and November 19th, the inaugural program explores recent Taiwanese films made in the past five years, including narrative fictions, documentaries, commercial genres, art films, local subjects and border-crossing productions. As a special bonus, the series also present several recently restored classics from Taiwan’s earlier commercial film industry, such as Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters (1968) and Moon Fascinating, Bird Sweet (1978). These films represent the cinematic tradition that the Taiwan New Cinema movement of the 1980s both built upon and reacted against.
The opening night film, “The Gangster’s Daughter” is not a stereotypical tale violent gang rivalry; it not only genuinely captures the unique sensibility of Taiwanese culture with a tint of classic gang drama, but is also anchored throughout by a central theme of fatherly love and family bond. Chen Mei-Juin presents the audience with an intense but nuanced story of a father’s reunion with his daughter who he’d never met, and a heartfelt reflection upon the struggles of walking between the line of darkness and light.
Another notable film of the series, Le Moulin (to be screened on Nov 5th), is one of the rare experimental literary documentary made in Taiwan in recent years. Director Huang Ya-Li depicts the story of Taiwan’s first modern art group, Le Moulin Poetry Society, that emerged in the 1930s after forty years of Japanese colonial rule, with their poetic protest against the colonial power’s cultural superiority. Regarding the Surrealists as their absolute role models, Le Moulin poets composed poetry in an uncompromising and sophisticated style to confront the turbulent era they lived in.
The fim series sports an impressive variety, including an eerie introspective tale in the wilderness “Foret Debussy”, a rambunctious action-comedy “The Village of No Return”, a black comedy and road caper film “Godspeed,” not to mention films from master directors such as Wan Jen and Chang Tso-Chi. With fourteen film in total available to the public, What Time Is It There? Taiwanese Film Biennial is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for audiences on the west coast to truly experience the full range and depth of Taiwanese cinema.
Aside from the screenings, a specially designed film industry panel titled “Taiwan in the Global Cinema Marketplace” will also be hosted at the Billy Wilder Theater on October 22, bringing together film critics, directors, film producers, curators and more, to engage in a multidimensional dialogue exploring and forecasting the future of Taiwan in the global cinema marketplace, to achieve further understanding of the current trends, ideologies and the path forward for Taiwanese cinema and creative talents.
In conjunction with the film screenings, Taiwan Academy is also presenting a complementary special exhibition titled Our Time: Taiwan New Cinema, focusing on the careers and influence of five foundational filmmakers to the Taiwan New Cinema movement: Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Wu Nien-Jen, Tsai Ming-Liang, and Mark Lee Ping-Bing. The films highlighted in this series elevate domestic dramas to heroic heights, with a formal approach that is stunning in its simultaneous simplicity and depth. The exhibition will run from Sept. 19 – Nov. 18 at the Taiwan Academy gallery at 1137 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles.
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