The mutually beneficial relationship between mainland China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) has led to an increased appetite for Chinese-language films. Taiwan believes its movie industry will eclipse that of the US within 10 years to become the world’s single-biggest market for films.
Taiwan-based filmmakers have an added advantage in this booming industry as they have been collaborating with Hollywood for a number of years – boding well for films filled with richness and variety.
To mark Taiwan’s centenary, the 2011 Taiwan Film Festival, hosted by the Taipei Liaison Office Information Division, aims to give South African viewers some idea of the depth and breadth of the development of Taiwan’s history over the past six decades.
The films will be screened free from 7 to 13 October at the Cinema Nouvea, Rosebank, Johannesburg. The programme comprises six movies, namely, Zoom Hunting, Peach Blossom Land, Eat Drink Man Woman, No Puerdo Vivir Sin Ti, Straw Man and Gangster Rock.
This year’s festival showcases Zoom Hunting – an elaborate film about a puzzle revolving around half seen images of sex and murder, with two sisters living in an apartment block. They start spying on a couple living opposite them and get more than they bargained for.
This year’s festival will also feature The Peach Blossom Land. This gentle film with a theatrical spirit and revolves around a single premise – two different theatre troupes find themselves trapped in the same rehearsal space, while their seemingly different plays might overlap thematically.
Eat Drink Man Woman tells of a senior chef who lives with his three grown daughters. The middle one finds her future plans affected by unexpected events and the life changes of the other house household members.
The foreign titled No Puerdo Vivir Sin Ti is an endearing movie that narrates the tale of a father who is in danger of losing his daughter because of his life as a vagrant.
Straw Man is based on historical narrative. Set against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan during WWII, and narrated by a scarecrow, Wang T’ung’s Straw Man is the story of the Chan brothers Ah-Fong and Widemouth, and their struggles to support their family.
A film festival would not be complete without “gangster chronicles’ hence Gangster Rock epitomises this genre. Hau is a troublemaker and small-time gangster. Despite his fiery temper and mobster line of work, he has a strong sense of justice. Hau visits a record company to collect a debt, the band’s singer is at his wits end. The two pair up to clear the debt and Hau helps the band release records and perform concerts. He realises that the entertainment industry is even nastier than the mob business.
This delightful range of Taiwan’s film industry, which has been through some tough patches, will appeal to South Africans because of the very similar history that South Africa and Taiwan share. These include universal themes of love, sacrifice, endurance and struggle to be an autonomous people. Through the genre of film, the Taiwanese people are captured in all their glory, and thereby promote cinema as an art form for the further simulation of ideas.