In Competition: Documentaries


This year, 64 documentaries applied for spots in the Taipei Film Festival (TaipeiFF) as part of the “Taipei Award” section for Taiwanese films.


TaipeiFF selection committee member and senior Taiwanese documentary film director Huang Ting-fu says a number of the films “surpassed the production capabilities of my best works. Audiences should watch them if they have a chance, but not to judge them as good or bad, as triumphs or failures. I recommend these works from the point of view of ‘films.’ And what is a ‘film’?...No matter what medium it is shot on, it simply must come completely from the director’s heart.”


There are several documentaries of note. In Ancient Species, director Lin Zhi-zhan delicately pairs the discovery of an ancient species of grain seed and a return to traditional farming methods in a village in China’s Yunnan Province with a touching portrait of a married couple there.


In How Long is the Road, director Tang Shiang-chu completes his “returning home” trilogy. The seed the film springs from is an aboriginal woodcarver on Taiwan’s east coast, whom Tang joins in a search for soldier’s drafted into Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Army in the 1940s and sent to China. Some of these conscripts eventually made it back to Taiwan, while others have lived through more than a half century of communism and are still in China today.


Veteran director Wu Mi-sen’s Tibet, Taiwan looks at the Tibetan diaspora from Taipei to India to the US and its relationship to a homeland severely supressed at the hands of the Chinese government.


Yellow Sheep River by Liu Suong returns to the basics of sound and image, dispensing completely with narrative and even dialogue to paint a portrait of life today in Yellow Sheep River (Huangyangchuan), a small agrarian village in the high plains of the upper Yellow River in China’s Gansu Province.


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