Having just joined the Spotlight Taiwan project this August, the East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California will host its first event this month—EASC Taiwanese Documentary Series: Family and Culture, featuring Taiwanese director Huang Chia-chun’s three documentaries We Are Flying, Hi! Baby!, and Rock Me to the Moon. And to deepen the audience’s understanding of Taiwanese culture and these documentaries’ ideas and meanings, Director Huang Chia-chun himself was specially invited to the U.S. for a face-to-face post-screening Q&A session.
Of the shown documentaries, We Are Flying, Director’s Huang’s first long/full-length documentary, won Best Documentary in the 10th Taipei Film Festival. The film is based on youths of the Hualien Hsin Wang Ai Youth Group learning to ride unicycles and riding around the Taiwanese island for 1,000km in 20 days as a challenge. It tells the stories of these troubled youths who come from domestic violence, broken families, or criminal pasts and how they achieve self-determination and self-affirmation through this challenge. (Screening Time: 1:45-3:45pm, Location: The Rosen Family Screening Theatre, Tutor Campus Center (TCC) 227)
Hi! Baby!, on the other hand, is on the interweaving topics of foster families, adoption families, and the children involved in the whole adoption process. It is the first Taiwanese documentary to openly discuss the sensitive subjects of blood relations and parents who are on opposite sides of the adoption process—those who give up or abandon the children and those who adopt the children. (Screening Time: 4:00-5:05pm, Location: The Rosen Family Screening Theatre, Tutor Campus Center (TCC) 227)
Rock Me to the Moon is a work by Huang Chia-chun in 2013, which won Audience Choice Award at the 2013 Taipei Film Festival and Best Original Film Song at the Golden Horse Awards the same year. The film revolves around the stressful challenges of families experiencing rare illnesses and the camaraderie among them, depicting the inspirational story of six fathers who have children with rare illnesses joining together to form the band “Sleepy Dads” and working hard toward the goal of performing at the Hohaiyan Rock Festival. (Screening Time: 7:00-10:00pm, Location: The Ray Stark Family Theatre, School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) 108)
Director Huang Chia-chun is currently the head of O-TURN FILMS. He is interested in topics others do not or will not approach, with the expectation to explore and change the world with a calm and unassuming tone. Minister Long of Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture once expressed that documentaries are the conscience of society. The growth of Taiwanese documentaries not only occurred alongside democratization, these films’ focal points also reach far and wide. The openness and freedom in Taiwanese society is the perfect incubator for growing the industry of documentary films.
Director Chi of the Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles stated that this documentary series event is the first cooperation with USC, screening three films on the topic of culture and family. These documentaries exhibit Taiwanese diversity’s inclusivity and vivacity. And through these works Taiwan’s multi-faceted culture and gentleness can be understood and felt. Given that Director Huang will be present in-person to interact with the audience, this is a rare opportunity and thus we encourage everyone to actively participate. In the future the USC East Asian Studies Center will host documentary series on the subjects of national politics and the environment. All events are free and open to public, http://dornsife.usc.edu/eascenter/easc-taiwanese-doc-series/.