Placing Relationship over the Project: Filmmaking in Oceania

Written by Cheng-Cheng Li. My filmmaking story in Oceania started with the Re/presenting Oceania course at the University of Hawai‘i. My Kumu (professor) Tarcisius Kabutaulake, who comes from the Solomon Islands, has been teaching and researching across the region for decades. His course invites me to critically engage with and discuss how the Pacific Islands have been represented in scholarly and other mediums. He brings me onto the ‘voyage’ across the ‘storyscapes’ of scholars, artists, performers, poets, and filmmakers to understand the politics of representation. This article will first discuss my filmmaking experience in Hawai‘i with the Pacific Island community. In the second section, with an increasing number of Indigenous Taiwanese wishing to connect with Oceania, I will address the interconnection story between Taiwanese Indigenous filmmakers and the Oceanic community. The theme of ‘relationship’ as ‘Priority’ will be interwoven into the stories. 

Indigenous/Islander Fanaticism Across the Pacific: A Perspective from Films

Written by Yawi Yukex; translated by Yi-Yu Lai. A type of Taiwanese is extremely fond of anything about the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan. They are captivated by all the totems and material cultures associated with Indigenous peoples, yet they frequently only believe what they already know about Indigenous cultures. Besides, they usually turn a deaf ear to Indigenous peoples’ enormous burdens and struggles. I call these individuals “Indigenous fanatics.” In the early 2000s, a series of Taiwanese films, such as “The Sage Hunter” (2005) and “Fishing Luck” (2005), portrayed Indigenous communities as shelters for those wishing to escape reality and contrasted cities with the communities. People believe that the expansion of civilisation causes problems, whereas mountains and forests represent the solution.

‘Queer’ Film and Representation at the Taiwanese Box Office: A Post-2019 Post-COVID Sinophone Dialogue 

Written by Elliott Y.N. Cheung. “Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing,” says José Esteban Muñoz. So, if these resisting narratives defy the regulation of an all-encompassing narrative and seek to entice viewers to recognise what is not yet there — might we call them queer? Moreover, if a country that not only enables such views but can actively and constructively engage with them, struggling to hold them in all their difference — might we also call it queer? 

Migrants’ Voice in Taiwanese Documentaries: Narrative, Language and Space

Written by Adina Zemanek and Lara Momesso. Since the early 2000s, immigrants from mainland China and Southeast Asia have been an increasingly visible component of Taiwan’s social and public landscape. As such, they have received growing recognition both in terms of legal provisions and in the public discourse. An example of this acknowledgement is the December 2019 issue of Taiwan Panorama, a promotional magazine issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Half of this issue is dedicated to highlighting migrants’ presence in Taiwan. One of the articles calls for listening to their unique life stories, which would have the transformative effect of understanding the world from a new perspective and dismantling preconceptions about Southeast Asian cultures.

Transition and Transformation: The Naming Dilemma in Today’s Taiwan Cinema

Written by Yiling Pan. What is the Taiwanese identity in today’s Taiwan Cinema? In 2008, Taiwan’s Cinema began to get back on its feet after an extended lull, with several new directors successively releasing critically acclaimed first works, such as Chung Mong-hong’s Parking, Tom Lin Shu-yu’s Winds of September and Gilles Yang’s Orz Boyz!. However, it took Wei Te-sheng’s debut, Cape No. 7, to become a box-office hit and arouse widespread interest in Taiwanese film. .

Positioning Taiwanese Queer Cinema on the Global Stage

Written by Yi Wang. Significant progress and landmark rulings in advancing LGBTQ+ rights have been made across Asia in recent years, though many challenges and obstacles remain. Asians are among the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the UK, but Asian LGBTQ+ communities are not widely represented. Film reflects society and a medium capable of raising awareness amongst audiences in a direct and accessible way. Queer representation in the media is strongly linked to the wider public’s views on LGBTQ+ communities. I founded Queer East to amplify the voices of under-represented queer Asian and diasporic communities.

Give Him a Kite to Go Home: An Interview with Tsai Tsung-Lung about His Pilot Documentary ‘Nine Shots’

Interviewed, translated and edited by Isabelle Cheng. On 30 October 2020, the Taiwan Studies Programme hosted a webinar after the online screening of a pilot documentary Nine Shots (槍響之前) directed by Tsai Tsung-lung. This essay is an interview with Tsai about this pilot documentary, which discusses what, if not who, was responsible for the tragic death of Nguyen Quoc Phi. The latter was an undocumented Vietnamese migrant worker who was shot dead by the police, firing nine shots in 12 seconds, on 31 August 2017 in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan.

‘Tigertail’ Missed These Opportunities to Tell Taiwan’s History

Written by Milo Hsieh. Alan Yang’s first feature film, Tigertail, recounts the tale of Pin-jui, a Taiwanese immigrant estranged from his family after arriving in New York. The Taiwanese backdrop sets the film apart from The Farewell, which also captured attention with its Asian American immigrant narrative. This has heightened expectations among Taiwanese and diaspora audiences for a film that portrays Taiwan not as a generic East Asian country but one with a unique culture and history.

Taiwan’s Highly Anticipated Historical TV Drama ‘Island Nation’ to Premiere on 20 January

Written by J. Michael Cole. A long time in the making and after many challenges, a major politico-historical TV drama about Taiwan’s democratization will finally hit TV sets nationwide on 20 January. Based on political developments and figures from the 1990s, “Island Nation” (國際橋牌社) follows the hopes, fears and travails of a wide set of fictional characters in the dramatic years of Taiwan’s transition from an authoritarian state to a democracy.

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