Taiwan Cinema Toolkit (TCT), as part of the Taiwan Cultural Toolkit project, was launched by the Ministry of Culture and is organized by Taiwan Film Institute. The aim of TCT is to offer the world easy access to the best of Taiwanese cinema. To realize this, we provide selected films, relevant introductions and critiques as well as other promotional materials on our website, and each year we compile a film brochure with our latest programming recommendations for global audiences.Since 2013, we have accumulated over 180 films on DVD, all recommended by prominent film directors, critics, and curators in Taiwan, and in 2016, we began providing screening materials in high-quality formats such as DCP and Blu-ray. The selected films are available for any overseas individuals, curators, and organizations to arrange non-profit screening events. We further help with support for screening fees, aiming to send our films to medium-scale or above screening events to enhance the visibility of Taiwanese cinema around the world.
For 2017, 21 films have been selected in four themes in our DCP & Blu-ray Showcase. For some choices, we hark back to key periods in Taiwan’s film history, introducing some rare old gems that represent the captivating past of Taiwanese cinema. At the same time, we have included more recent films in our documentary and director-in-focus sections for global audiences to take a glimpse at the thriving culture of the contemporary film industry in Taiwan. This year, we string all the sections together with the keyword “diversity” that is reiterated in various aspects across the sections, including genres, subjects, issues, and a director’s aesthetics.
“Classics of Taiwan Cinema” explores six representative films categorized in three different genres. Two adaptations of Chiang-Yao’s bestselling romances, Moon Fascinating, Bird Sweet (1978) and The Wild Goose on the Wing (1979) focus on the universalality of love, and resonate with beautiful characters, twisted stories, and catchy theme songs. Two Taiwanese-dialect films deliver a world of frothy comedy. Brother Wang and Brother Liu Tour Taiwan (1959) showcases the scenery of 1950s Taiwan and casts two calamitous best friends modelled after Hollywood’s classical comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy. Goodbye, Taipei (1969) stars Taiwanese pop singer, WEN Hsia, and invites audiences to time-travel back to the golden age of Taiwanese-dialect musicals with a diverse range of music. Two omnibus fantasies under the themes of whimsical folklore and incarnated love give insights into the themes and styles of several big name directors, including PAI Ching-Jui, King HU, LI Hsing, and LI Han-Hsiang.
“Taiwan B-Movies” takes a sensational journey into the most unexpectedly lurid era in Taiwan’s film history. Between 1979 and 1983, a rash of exploitational B-movies boldly depicting crime, gambling, lust, and revenge suddenly flourished and struck with huge success at the box office. The documentary Taiwan Black Movies (2005) comprises invaluable fragments from classic B-movies as well as interviews with many of the filmmakers involved to discuss how the rise of the genre became a reflection of the collective anxieties of the then totalitarian Taiwan and how its fall leads to the emergence of Taiwan New Cinema. Adapted from a criminal’s autobiographical story, badass classic Never Too Late to Repent (1979) is an adrenaline-fueled ride of violence and decadence set deep in the red-light district. Female revenge films The Lady Avenger (1981) and Woman Revenger (1982) portray powerless women transforming into unrelenting killers to get even with those who have wronged them. The Challenge of the Lady Ninja (1982) presents a fantasy world where a red-garbed hot ninja resorts to her femininity to fight against her enemies. Documentary in contemporary Taiwan is often issue-driven and reflects Taiwan as a diverse society, while it also has great aesthetic value for its often stylish cinematic language.
“A Selection of Taiwan Documentaries” introduces four documentaries tackling different issues. Hebei Taipei (2015) explores a former soldier’s tumultuous past and his ambiguous identity in both gender and nationality. Still Life (2015) is an intimate look at how a family copes with bereavement and turns a new page in life through the rhythm of everyday events. Environmental film The Lost Sea (2014) explores how the life and death of an ancient species of horseshoe crab on Kinmen island is intertwined with Taiwan’s turbulent history with China. TPE-Tics (2015) portrays how a noise performer who suffers from Tourette’s syndrome as he turns his frustrations into unique artistic performances throughout Taiwan’s underground music scene.
In the last section, we focus on Midi Z, a Myanmar-born and Taiwan-based director who has already won many international accolades, to introduce his auteuristic themes and styles. During his teenage, Midi Z, carrying his family’s expectations, came to Taiwan to study in pursuit of a better life. His personal experience and his films both reflect how harsh economic realities subtly connect to the destiny of laborers, urging them to cross borders to seek opportunities to change their lives. In Return to Burma (2011) and Poor Folk (2012), Taiwan becomes a symbolic dreamland that often turns out to be a pipe-dream. Ice Poison (2014) examines Myanmar’s changes under capitalism by depicting two characters trapped in the amphetamine business as they seek ways to earn their living. His experimental short The Palace on the Sea (2013) visualizes the psychological suffering of an economic migrant as a fantasy romance. His documentary Jade Minders (2015) further exposes the miners’ harsh reality by juxtaposing the life-threatening danger with their humdrum daily life. Despite often having to deal with compromised production circumstances and budgets, Midi Z has found a great flexibility in shooting films, a flexibility that has already made the world open their eyes to his unique way of filmmaking and his imaginative take on what is considered as cinema.
We sincerely welcome you to take a cinematic journey with us and look forward to your screening applications! For more information, please visit our website at toolkit.tfi.org.tw/en.