Taiwan Cinema Toolkit (TCT), organized by Taiwan Film Institute and subsidized by the Ministry of Culture, provides an authorized Taiwanese film database for overseas non-profit use, offering screening materials in different formats for various forms of non-profit screenings abroad. TCT also includes introductions and critiques of selected films as well as other promotional materials, such as film stills, on our website. A film brochure is compiled every year to offer the world quick and easy access to the best of Taiwanese cinema.
Since 2014, we have accumulated over 200 films on DVD, all recommended by prominent film directors, critics and curators in Taiwan. In 2016, we began providing screening materials in high-quality formats such as DCP and Blu-ray. Selected films are available for any overseas individuals, curators, and organizations to arrange screening events. We offer screening fee subsidies, aimed at sending our films to medium-sized or larger screening events to enhance the visibility of Taiwanese cinema around the world.
This year, with “juxtaposition” as the curatorial concept, TCT has selected 20 Taiwanese films organized into four sections. In each section, the films contrast and reflect each other to shape a shared theme and context, allowing the audience to glimpse vibrant stories of Taiwan from the past and present.
“The Changing Face of Femininity in 60s Taiwan” selects five digitally restored Taiyupian, or Taiwanese-language films. Telling local stories in the styles of international cinema, Taiyupian were able to present diverse mainstream films that became popular among local audiences. The combination of internationalization and localization also fostered a variety of female images. The Fantasy of the Deer Warrior (1961), for instance, adapted from Aesop’s Fables, creates a feeling of postmodern absurdity by having the performer wear a doe costume to depict a different kind of damsel in distress. Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters (1968) fuses elements of Taiwanese Opera with the Chinese-language Wuxia (martial-chivalric) genre. Valiant female warriors banding together in a male-dominated world becomes a powerful representation of independent women. Director LIN Tuan-Chiu transformed Taiyupian through his own Japanese influences. The female characters in his films are given depth and voice and serve as a criticism and response to Taiwan’s patriarchy through the eyes of an intellectual. Family melodrama The Husband’s Secret (1960) places sharply observed social issues within a love triangle, meanwhile emphasizing the female characters’ steadfast support of each other. May 13th, Night of Sorrow (1965), regarded as the forerunner of Taiwan’s coming-of-age film genre, deals with young women’s emotional growth. Detective thriller Six Suspects (1965), with its riveting plot twists and depictions of complicated relationships in a modern society, turns 1960’s Taipei into an exciting, bourgeois metropolis.
In “The Asian Diaspora: Migration and Homeland Revisited”, all five films begin with their directors’ life experiences and their concerns for society from which to explore the essence of homeland. After Spring, the Tamaki Family… (2016) poses questions of national identity by tracing the history of a Taiwanese immigrant family on Okinawa, reflecting the complicated relations between Taiwan and Japan. Director LAU Kek-Huat’s Absent Without Leave (2016) departs from LAU’s family history and that of his grandfather, who his family avoids speaking of, to peer into the hidden history of Malaysia’s Communist dream that once thrived among people in the Malaya forests. Out/Marriage (2012) is the first Taiwanese documentary filmed from the perspective of a new female immigrant. Having herself experienced a failed marriage, director NGUYEN Kim Hong documents and cares for other immigrant women who have suffered the same fate. Through the camera, NGUYEN’s disadvantages in gender and identity becomes a unique entry point in speaking for new immigrants. Towards the Sun (2016) combines the road movie genre with the much-discussed topic of foreign workers’ deportation. It tells the story of two very different people, both hitting a low point in their lives, as they embark on a long road trip together. Black Bear Forest (2016) goes deep into Taiwan’s beautiful mountain forests to capture the adorable native creatures on film. Through the bonds established in ecologist HWANG Mei-Hsiu and aboriginal hunter LIN’s journey in search of Formosan black bears, modern scientific research and traditional aboriginal knowledge strike dazzling sparks off each other.
“Director in Focus: Singing CHEN” presents two of CHEN’s creative trajectories: features and documentaries. Her feature films reveal the fight for survival among marginalized people and the absurdities of modern society often using magical realism. The surrealistic Bundled (2000), in which characters talk with each other in dreams, paints the world of homeless people as an imaginarium. God Man Dog (2007) explores the minds of those lost in misguided values with multiple storylines that put together different ethnic groups, classes and religions. “The Clock” (2011) uses an elderly woman’s dementia as a metaphor for the city’s collective dementia, as communities crumble amid demolitions. “The Pig” (2013) deals with a similar issue and tells a modern urban fable of sacrifice, lost memories and abandonment that unfolds in a magical Taipei city. Meanwhile, CHEN’s art documentaries discuss the possibilities for modern people to maintain a whole and peaceful mind amid society’s chaos and confusion. The Walkers (2015), a documentary on acclaimed Taiwanese choreographer LIN Lee-Chen, takes a journey into the artist’s brilliant creative mind and captures her calming physical strength.
In “Passing on the Torch: Filmmaking Across Generations”, documentaries explore the subjects of cinematography and sound, taking a retrospective look at two veteran filmmakers’ fascinating careers and examining their influences on younger generations. The films also serve to respond to and converse with Taiwan’s film history by way of the documentary directors’ distinctive use of intertextuality. Let the Wind Carry Me (2010) looks at Mark LEE Ping-Bing’s career as a cinematographer and the intricate emotions he has for his family. The film’s rich palette reflects LEE’s life-long journey of chasing fleeting light and color. In A Foley Artist (2017), WANG Wan-Jo follows Foley artist HU Ding-Yi’s professional life and traces the development of sound effects in the Chinese-language film industry, at the same time identifying the uniquely inseparable yet dialectic relationship between image and sound. Apart from exploring the influence of veteran filmmakers, this section also incorporates young directors’ short films, looking at how young directors to various degrees are influenced by the past of Taiwan cinema, forge their own visual languages with more flexible ways of filmmaking, and adopt new media and aesthetics to start a new dialogue with history. Two shorts on teenagers extend while, at the same time, vary the coming-of-age subjects often explored throughout Taiwan’s cinematic history. Wild Tides (2016), continues the plain and simple style of Taiwan New Cinema in its film language portraying the elusive frustrations of a teenage boy growing up in a rural area. Babes’ Not Alone (2017), varies the same subject with stylistically comic elements. From a uniquely female perspective, it recounts the wondrous day-long journey of a teenage girl looking after a baby that’s not her own. Lastly, this section ends with artist LIN Hsin-I’s experimental short Letter#69 (2016) to explore a brand new way of filmmaking. The film interprets unfinished family letters from prisoners who were victims of the White Terror. Using a new medium and an experimental method, the names of those who were wronged through government brutality and political persecution are finally acknowledged using an archive that was once left unwritten. This experimental short introduces another kind of Taiwanese cinema that is gradually converging with media arts and using alternative screening spaces away from traditional movie theaters, and points to an interesting new direction for Taiwan’s cinematic future.
Take a cinematic journey with us as we welcome your applications for screenings. For more in-formation, please visit our website at toolkit.tfi.org.tw/en.