Taiwan is a young country, and the main audience of its cinema is similarly young. Taiwanese cinema is constantly refreshed by this youthful energy, a... (Read more)
Taiwan is a young country, and the main audience of its cinema is similarly young. Taiwanese cinema is constantly refreshed by this youthful energy, and thus constantly reflecting the hopes and dreams of the nation’s youth, revealing untold new worlds.
The documentary Jump! Boys (2005) might be the most dynamic film since Taiwan New Cinema thrived in the 1980s. A group of elementary school boys from different backgrounds and of distinct personalities forms a gymnastics team, and with the strict training of their coach, these boys leap over life’s obstacles to achieve great things. This documentary is also seen a warm-up for the rejuvenation of Taiwanese cinema in 2008 and later, including 2008’s Orz Boyz This coming-of-age film features two boys who bid farewell to their childhood after experiencing loss and separation. These two boys are forced to enter the “real world”, seeing through the lies told by adults and accepting the dark side of life. The bitterness of initiation was previously addressed in 1995’s Tropical Fish, which depicts local ordinary people with over-the-top comedy that masks harsh social criticism. For example, it judges the rote-memorization orientation of the academic exam system for stifling the enthusiasm of youth, while also featuring a young dropout yearning to take those same exams, illustrating the sharp difference between urban and rural Taiwan.
Taiwanese films focusing on young people usually highlight subculture. For example, Kung Fu Dunk (2009), starring pop idol Jay Chou, combines Chinese martial arts and basketball to create a combined idol story and heroic narrative. Stars (2008) follows a popular reality-singing competition series, building a heroic narrative from the trials and tribulations of the competitors. With the political landscape at the time turbulent, the show and documentary provided de-politicized escapism. Gangster Rock (2010), meanwhile, vacuously blends rock music, underworld gangsters, and fandom of Japanese and American idols.
At the same time, Winds of September (2008) and Monga (2010) embrace a stronger concern with social issues. The former, set in 1990s Taiwan when the professional baseball league was falling apart due to corruption, evokes the sense of loss that comes with growing up and reflects on post-millennial political disillusionment. The latter not only touches on growing up and issues of identity, but also figuratively addresses Taiwan’s recent political history. The plot concerns a traditional gang being replaced by a new, profit-oriented gang, an allegory for the historical political oppression by the Kuomintang of “local” Taiwanese. These two films are both extensions on past works from the Taiwan New Cinema of the 1980s, specifically Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s coming-of-age stories The Time to Live and The Time to Die (1985) and Dust in the Wind (1986). The former explores self-identity of second generation children of Chinese who arrived in Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War, using autobiographical narration. The latter describes a dichotomy between urban city, Taipei, and rural township, Jiufen, along with the progressive violence that accompanies modernization, industrialization, and urbanization in Taiwan. The young characters in these two films carry heavy burden of history, quite different from the carefree ones depicted in contemporary films.
Teenager Bo-Yan goes around his local village asking people if they need help for the harvest season. But with his parents on the run from debt, no on... (Read more)
On Liang’s 18th birthday, she is unable to celebrate with her boyfriend because she has to babysit her irresponsible brother’s baby. Refusing to lose ... (Read more)
Hsiao-Wei and A-Chieh are cousins who stick together through thick and thin, having grown up together in a multilingual Hakka military dependents’ vil... (Read more)
With the arrival of summer, 17-year-old Kang-Yi returns to a shady neighborhood by Keelung Harbor to spend her summer vacation at the blind massage pa... (Read more)
“Should you give your first kiss to the boy who likes you or the girl you like?” MENG Ker-Rou and LIN Yue-Zhen are high school friends who can talk to... (Read more)
As always, A-hui came to Man-mei’s pub to play the Street Fighter video game choosing to play his regular Scorpio character Chun-li, who is burdened w... (Read more)
An ordinary day in an ordinary campus, until a girl who was loved by everyone kills herself. Everyone is asking why, but no one knows the truth, excep... (Read more)
10-year-old city boy Bao has been sent to Quchi, a riverside town outside of Taipei, for the length of the summer, allowing his parents time to work o... (Read more)
Seventeen should be a carefree age, but Yang gets to see the complexities of love in the world. His best friend Ma is mad at his girlfriend. His fathe... (Read more)
The teacher at an aboriginal primary school nestled in the mountains gives the students a weekend assignment for which the students must try and find ... (Read more)
A frank and entertaining portrait of the lives and family relations of three gay teenagers in Taipei. This documentary candidly captures the day-to-da... (Read more)
Tung wakes one morning to find his girlfriend has abandoned him, leaving only a break-up note stuck to his forehead. While reeling from this turn of e... (Read more)
Director of the documentary Jump! Boys, LIN Yu-Hsien, makes a handsome follow-up with this motivational sports movie inspired by the life story of his... (Read more)
After his father's death, 10-year-old Xiang is sent to live with his mother and a stepfather he barely knows. However, a lurking threat of unspoken vi... (Read more)
A group of socially deviant teenagers live at the Faith Hope Love Academy, a foster-care facility in Hualien, eastern Taiwan. Many of these “nowhere b... (Read more)
When he was 8 years old, the film’s director caused a terrible incident at his school. The guilt he continued to carry cost him the love and trust of ... (Read more)
This is a semi-autobiographical film by director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. In the film, a Hakka family left China and settled temporarily in a small town Fengs... (Read more)
Three mothers become close friends because they each have an autistic child. They learn, encourage, and support one another, and although they live in... (Read more)
Monga is named for Mengjia, an old district of Taipei which has long been the domain of the local gangsters. Mosquito, the teenage son of a single mot... (Read more)
Cool-Ma, a bright teenager, is accidently killed by Yu-Tung while he’s practicing for a marathon at night. Yu-Tung is a teenage girl who dresses... (Read more)
Taipei teenager Chih-chiang does not do well in school, and is a day dreamer. He witnesses the kidnapping of a little boy by accident. After being dis... (Read more)
Master Lin makes paper houses—or paper “origami villas”—for the dead. His son Gang has just started working at a real estate a... (Read more)
Refusing to take the College Entrance Exam, Xiao-Kang drops out of cram school and hangs around Ximending, spending all his time in a video arcade. On... (Read more)
Ah-yuan and Ah-yun grow up together in a small mining town of Jiufen. The mining industry is in decline, and there’s no hope for the new generation. T... (Read more)
A youth story follows Yen, Tang, and their group of friends, united by loyalty for each other and passion for the same baseball team, through their la... (Read more)