The Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are pleased to present FILM at LACMA: The Early Films of Mou Tun-fei. Online screenings will feature the Taiwanese director's first two feature films, “I Didn't Dare to Tell You” and “The End of the Track.” Virtual screenings of the films will be available and free to the public within the US region from September 25 to 27, 2020. For more information and to RSVP please visit: https://www.lacma.org/event/film-screening-early-films-mou-tun-fei
Mou Tun-fei (1941-2019) declared cinema his lifework meanwhile he was still an art college student. “I Didn't Dare to Tell You” and “The End of the Track” are the only two feature-length films he made in Taiwan and are among the nation’s very first independent titles. Both went unreleased until 2018 for unknown reasons, though rumor has it that the realistic depiction of the stifling society in “I Didn’t Dare to Tell You” and the hint of homosexuality in “The End of the Track” could have triggered those reasons. Discouraged by these setbacks, Mou spent the following years travelling in Europe and South America before working in Hong Kong for Shaw Brothers Pictures.
Adam Piron, film curator at LACMA, said that those are familiar with Mou Tun-fei's work within the US know him from his more shocking and controversial later work, but his first films are mostly complete unknowns to them. “They were to me, which as a film curator, is a dream to program,” said Piron. “Mou’s career is really fascinating in that it provides not only a look at an artist who was finding his voice…but also a look at how he was pushing themes that were really ahead of their time, culturally.” Piron added, “These films also provide an essential part of a larger survey of a then-burgeoning scene of independent and avant-garde filmmakers that's unique to Taiwanese Cinema.”
The feature film, “I Didn't Dare to Tell You,” follows a primary school student who works a night job to pay off his father's gambling debts, and as a result, he constantly dozes off during his classes in the day. As the teacher investigates, a series of family disputes ensues. This film has only been seen by a small number of people at private screenings, but nevertheless, its realistic style has been proven influential.
The long-lost second feature by Mou Tun-fei, “The End of the Track,” is a sensitive story of inner turmoil and social portraiture. Hsiao-tung and Yung-sheng are adolescent boys whose unusually close friendship comes to a sudden end with Yung-sheng’s accidental death. Hsiao-tung assuages his guilt by becoming a surrogate son to Yung-sheng’s grieving and economically-deprived parents, but is eventually forced to confront the nature of his relationship with his deceased friend. Unreleased in its day and unseen for decades, “The End of the Track” now takes its rightful place as an early landmark of Taiwanese queer and independent cinemas.
Emmy Yang, Director of Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles, said Mou’s work is a gateway to understand Taiwan at a specific moment of its own development, and she hopes to keep collaborating with LACMA and introduce more of Taiwan’s cinema to the U.S.
According to the movie rating system in Taiwan, these two films require parental guidance for children ages 6-12, and children under 6 are not allowed for viewing.