Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh presents its first edition
- Deborah Chu
- 12 August 2020
Twenty films across seven thematic strands to be screened digitally this September
As we welcome the digital return of our August festivals, a new addition to the Festival City line-up is another strong indication that – even when embroiled in a pandemic – the arts and cultural scene in Scotland remains vibrant and global. It's been announced that the first edition of the Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh will be taking place from Friday 18–Sunday 27 September, with a curated programme of 20 films that showcase the very best in Taiwanese cinematography past and present. Ranging from the 1960s to modern day, many of the titles are exceptionally rare, and will be marking their UK debut at the festival.
Though the Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh was originally conceived as a physical festival, the outbreak of COVID-19 meant the programme was quickly adapted into a digital offering and made completely free to watch. Each title will be online for between seven to ten days, and viewers at home will have 5 days to watch the film once they've received access.
Seven thematic strands, spanning feature films, documentaries and short films, will trace the cultural and political changes of this island nation, as well as the vital diversity of thought and freedom of expression which has sustained it throughout decades of upheaval.
Highlights include the strand 'A Borrowed Hong Kong, an Imagined Taiwanese China, and Trans-regional Cinema', which explores intellectually-ambitious works that Chinese directors created in Taiwan, away from the state censorship of the Chinese Communist Party; 'Melodrama Divas', which explore adaptations of Chiung Yao's romance novels, highlighting the experiences of women and intergenerational conflict in the face of changing social norms; and 'New Wave and its Legacy', which examines how Taiwanese directors, inspired by Italian neorealism and the French New Wave, are developing innovative ways to examine contemporary issues in Taiwanese society.
The programme will also place a spotlight on the works of Midi Z, a Myanmar-born director working in Taiwan that explores the experiences of the Chinese diaspora across Asia, including his 2014 feature Ice Poison, which was named Best International Feature at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Similarly, the festival's documentary strand explores the ethnic and cultural diversity of Taiwan and the contributions that immigrant groups have brought to the country, such as 2012's Out/Marriage, an autobiographical tale of one Vietnamese woman's move to Taiwan and her escape from an abusive marriage, and 2015's The Mountain, which follows the everyday life of an indigenous farmer and explores their struggles under various governments. In addition to the film screenings, the festival team have collaborated with the Scottish Documentary Institute to host a series of Q&A sessions and panel discussions, which will be announced further down the line.
The Chief Curator of the Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh, Liu Kuan-ping, says: 'We are extremely excited to be able to share this first ever edition of Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh with the UK audiences. It has been great to witness the global surge in interest in Taiwanese cinematography over the last decade and we hope this Festival helps introduce some of the lesser-known talent to wider audiences as it charts the fascinating journey of Taiwanese cinema from the 60s until now.
'Our main supporter, Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute, has been focusing on film restoration in recent years. To showcase the creativity and innovation in the older days, we chose several restored films to feature in our programme. My personal favourites would be the Taiwanese-Hokkien films and melodramas. As a cult film and meme lover, I guarantee these films are definitely meme-worthy.
'Lastly, we hope to be able to bring a series of physical film screenings to Edinburgh audiences later this year so make sure to follow @TaiwanFFE for updates!'
Taiwan Film Festival runs from Fri 18–Sun 27 Sep. Further details can be found at taiwanfilmfestival.org.uk.