Taiwan Cinema Toolkit (TCT) is part of Taiwan Cultural Toolkit project supported by Ministry of Culture, and organized by Taiwan Film Institute. The remit of the project is to offer easy access to the best of Taiwanese cinema by providing selected films authorized for non-profit screening around the world.
All of the Taiwanese films showcased in TCT were selected and recommended by film directors, film critics, and film festival curators. Since 2014, TCT has incorporated 160+ films in total, including important films from Taiwan New Cinema such as Dust in the Wind (1986) and The Terrorizers (1986), restored Taiwanese-language films from the 1960s, The Fantasy of the Deer Warrior (1961), Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters (1968), and the masterpiece of director WAN Jen, Super Citizen Ko (1994).
In 2016, 22 more excellent films in four themes were added to the list in high-quality DCP or Blu-ray format, all of which can be provided free of charge for non-profit screenings organized by international cultural organizations. For each film, the TCT website offers detailed information, relevant promotional materials and brief critiques for each film, providing different perspectives for people to better understand the cinema culture of Taiwan.
In the theme ''Goddesses of Taiwan Cinema'', six specially chosen works across forty years were included to glorify the great figures of star actresses lighted up an entire generation. In The Best Secret Agent (1964), "woman of a thousand faces" PAI Hung exhibits tremendous range by playing a character who goes from orphan to singer to trophy wife, leaving no doubts about her acting talent. In The Young Ones (1973), CHEN Chen leads us into an enchanting world of light and shadow characterized by both fantasy and realism. In Cloud of Romance (1977), Brigitte LIN's interpreted the delicate and pitiful image typical of writer Chiung-Yao's female protagonists. In Cheerful Wind (1981), "Queen of Hats", FENG Fei-Fei combined localist sentiments, urban fashion, and an international sensibility into a single character. In 1990s, as a star enjoying a career spanned TV, film and music, Tarcy SU attracted considerable attention when she starred in KO I-Chen's film Blue Moon (1997). With lasting freshness and youthfulness, GWEI Lun-Mei shone in Blue Gate Crossing (2002) and transcended traditional definitions of acting technique and beauty, cementing her status as a silver-screen goddess in the hearts of new-generation audiences.
Director CHANG Tso-Chi has long used his films to focus on people at the margins of society and is responsible for developing a realism-driven approach to filmmaking that has been coined "Life is Drama". "Master of Taiwan Cinema: CHANG Tso-Chi" includes five films directed by CHANG. Ah Chung (1996) employed the realistic filming methods of Taiwan's "New Cinema". Through the eponymous protagonist — a reckless young man who joins the mysterious temple troupe known as "Ba Jia Jiang" (Eight Household Generals) — the film gradually deconstructs the causal relationship between society and the criminal underworld. Darkness and Light (1999) uses the most realistic elements to subvert the out-of-date conventions of realism that prevailed at the time, thereby enabling him to establish his own personal style. The Best of Times (2002) earns CHANG's first Best Feature Film prize at the Golden Horse Awards — the highest honor in the Chinese-language movie world. Soul of a Demon (2007) still contained CHANG's most familiar elements: the criminal underworld, family, and death. To date, it is still CHANG Tso-Chi's darkest and most depressing film. In When Love Comes (2010), CHANG turns focus to women and displays newfound power in his filmmaking. CHANG's best works unlocks the imagination during moments of utmost realism, letting the flowing water of fantasy wash over the pain of reality.
In 1967, two blockbuster movies—King HU's Dragon Gate Inn and CHANG Cheh's One-Armed Swordsman—were introduced in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, reigniting the flames of the wuxia genre, setting off the new wave that would continue in Taiwan throughout the 1970s in which a genre were continuously replicated when the trend required them to stay similar while still offering novelty and change. ''Classics of Taiwan Wuxia Films'' incorporate five representative works which reflect the obvious and thick "United flavor" of the productions: The Swordsman of all Swordsmen, Iron Mistress (1969), A City Called Dragon (1970), The Grand Passion (1970), The Fly Dragon Mountain (1971). Although made by different directors, it is very difficult to not see shades of HU's style in these films from the narrative approach and historical elements, to the choreography of the fight scenes and central themes involving the defense of a nation by its people. Through these five films, we can understand the context of Union Motion Picture's development, as well as how the so-called "movie factory" model has indeed left its mark on Taiwan's film industry.
Last but not least, the series of six documentaries entitled The Inspired Island: Series of Eminent Writers from Taiwan released in 2011: Home in Two Cities, The Coming of Tulku, The Untrammeled Traveler, Port of Mists, The Man behind the Book, and Towards The Completion of a Poem. These six documentaries include looks at the artists' photographs, handwritten manuscripts, in-depth interviews, snippets of their daily lives, and discussions with friends and academics, attempting to construct three-dimensional images of their lives. Just like the question raised by ZHENG Chou-Yu in one of his poems: "Who passes down this poet's trade / And hangs a lamp at sunset?" It is as though the directors are using their films to hang a lamp for us, illuminating the outer lives and inner worlds of these literary artists while also establishing an intersubjective dialogue between the filmer (director) and the filmed (literary artist), enabling them to share each other's light in the way that a mirror can shine light into another mirror.
Taiwan Cinema Toolkit is an ongoing cultural project. In the coming years, more spectacular Taiwanese films will be added, allowing international organizations and individual film lovers to take good advantage of the database conveniently.