In Taitung, eastern Taiwan, a group of gangsters serve as the faces of the god Handan during Lantern Festival. For their evening “god patrols,” they strip to the waist and ascend a sacred palanquin wearing only masks and red shorts, summoning the local residents and believers to assault ...(Read more)
In Taitung, eastern Taiwan, a group of gangsters serve as the faces of the god Handan during Lantern Festival. For their evening “god patrols,” they strip to the waist and ascend a sacred palanquin wearing only masks and red shorts, summoning the local residents and believers to assault and singe their bodies with fireworks. Flames and faith fill the festival, known to Taiwanese as “Blasting Handan.”
In this documentary, director Ho Chao-Ti interviews four men of different generations and temperaments who perform Handan, showing their lives as underworld underdogs.
“Blasting Handan” is both a collective rite for locals and as self-therapy, redemption, and (re)socialization for its participants. As part of a political and economic underclass that is frustrated with mainstream society, the four men are forced to survive, support their families, and get some kind of social mobility through the male bond of gangsterism. One makes his way up to local councilman after years of organizing the festival. Another one fights against his shady past to enjoy a decent job, a peaceful family, and a “normal” life. For him, playing Handan is his spiritual support, despite his being an Aboriginal Christian. Another is a young low-tier thug, restless and hot-tempered. The tattoos and piercings on his body and his participation in Handan, however, pave his way to being recognized by gangster society.
As a female interviewer and a mature documentary-maker, Ho somehow softens the four masculine and macho informants, inducing them to confide to the camera. She also fleshes out the articulation and negotiation between individual acts and social structure. The narrative of the film follows the stages of the rite, from preparation to performance, but Ho avoids, or at least minimizes, spectacle. Instead, the interview is the lead, and thus, “deep description” replaces voyeuristic spectacle. What Ho achieves is not merely a recording of the sights and sounds of the rite, but also a valuable socio-cultural ethnography.
|DVD source：||R.O.C. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.|
|Taiwan Academies, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C. please contact Embassies, Representative Offices of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, R.O.C.|
|Subtitle：||Chinese, English, French, Spanish|
|Producer：||HO Chao-Ti, LIN Chien-Hsiang|
|WANG Yin-Shuen, LIN Chien-Hsiang, YU Guang-Ming, HO Chao-Ti|
|Music：||CHEN Guan-Yu, The Hohak Band|
Public Service & Marketing Dept, Public Television Service
2006 Taiwan International Documentary Festival, International Competition (Short)
2006 Women Make Waves Film Festival
2006 Golden Harvest Awards, Merit Award (Documentary)