Written by Hsin-Chin Evelyn Hsieh. The award for the best documentary feature at the 59th Golden Horse Awards held in November 2022 in Taipei, Taiwan, went to And Miles to Go Before I Sleep (2022), directed by Tsung-Lung Tsai. At the ceremony, film producer Kim Hong Nguyen, dressed in the Vietnamese traditional garment áo dài, read out a message from Quoc Phi Nguyen’s family expressing their grief and hopes. It was the first time a documentary on migrant workers was presented with the Golden Horse Award, thereby creating a platform for voiceless migrants and drawing attention to the related issues in mainstream society.
Sight and Sound: Conversations on Death Penalty between Taiwan and Southeast Asia
Written by Kar-Yen Leong. In an article by Franklin Zimring and David Johnson, we are reminded of the importance of studying the death penalty in Asia as it is the site of “…at least 85 per cent and as many as 95 per cent of the world’s execution.” The authors add that the region is a key battleground as to whether this practice will continue or become a remnant of a less civilised past. This struggle is no more intense than in East and Southeast Asian states, where the death penalty is not only an indelible part of only their legal systems but also their very societies. The decision to retain or abolish the death penalty has become a matter of intense soul-searching among states such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, navigating landscapes replete with ghosts of colonial and authoritarian pasts. For these countries, the state’s power over life and death is a direct extension of its sovereignty. Giving up this power is to lose that sovereignty, but it also means the loss of a weapon of last resort forged to keep the forces of chaos at bay.
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?
From the New Wave to the Present: International Soft Power in Taiwanese Film and Television
Written by Brian Hioe. Taiwan may have a long way to go with regards to this before achieving anything like the successes of the Taiwanese New Wave some decades back. This ultimately returns to issues that exist on multiple levels, all the way from within the film industry to government promotion of Taiwanese films.
Le Moulin: An Invitation to Meditate on Taiwanese History by Ya-Li Huang
Written by Chun-yi Kuo. From a personal point of view, this essay attempts to shed light on the opening sequence of Huang Ya-Li’s film Le Moulin (2015) by explaining the metaphor of the sequence and the film. I will clarify the history of Taiwan’s cinematographic work, along with that of surrealist poets, and their connection to Taiwan’s national history.
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.