05-15 November 2020

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HIFF Blog

October 17, 2019

HIFF39 SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN: Breaking Patriarchal and Technological Barriers

This year's SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN exemplifies the boundaries that are being challenged in making the island nation a cutting edge destination through investment in VR, as well as putting female-centric stories onto the forefront as a reaction to the #MeToo movement.

Kexi Wu is not only the main lead, but she also wrote the screenplay for NINA WU. 

An annual sidebar supported by the Taiwan Academy of Los Angeles and the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan, SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN exemplifies the cultural and technological boundaries that are being challenged in making the island nation a cutting edge destination on 21st century Asian filmmaking. For the first time, HIFF is highlighting the groundbreaking work in VR coming from Taiwan. As for traditional filmmaking, Taiwanese cinema is putting female filmmakers and stories on the forefront, more so than any Asian country’s cinema output today.

HIFF is proud to present two major films that explore female-centric stories that also have gender parity behind the camera as well. Myanmar-born and Taiwanese resident Midi Z, returns to the directors chair with NINA WU, in collaboration with his go-to actress Kexi Wu, who wrote the script, inspired by the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo Movement. NINA WU is a Lynchian look at the inner-psyche of a working actress in Taiwan (played by Wu) as her quick rise to fame is reflected in a dark underbelly that is represented by another actress that stalks and terrorizes her. NINA WU had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.

The second film we are presenting is Hsieh Pei-ju’s HEAVY CRAVING. The talented chef for a preschool run by her demanding mother, Ying-juan earns praise for her culinary creations but scorn for her weight. Joining a popular weight loss program seems like an answer but it’s the unlikely allies she finds outside the program—and the obstacles she faces in it—that help her find a truer path to happiness. Both films explore the darker sides of self-discovery battened down by the patriarchy. HEAVY CRAVING was the Audience Choice Award at this year’s Taipei Film Festival. The film will be competing for the Kau Ka Hōkū Award for Best Emerging Film and for the NETPAC Award. 

Short films are usually the first foray for young filmmakers, and the Festival is honored to present two 'genre' short films that will be screened as part of the CAREFUL WHAT YOU PACK shorts program. Wu Ray's BITE and I-Hui Lee's THE MENARCHE will screen in this program. 

HIFF’s VR Program will have a special Taiwan Focus. The four experiences that will be presented are: ABANDONED TEMPLE by Wei-Hao Cheng; AFTERIMAGE FOR TOMORROW by Singing Chen; BODYLESS by Hsin-Chien Huang; and YOUR SPIRITUAL TEMPLE SUCKS by John Hsu. These works showcase Taiwan’s push to be an early adopter of XR (an umbrella term for both VR and AR). By being pioneers in this expanding medium, in collaboration by stakeholders in the corporate (HTC) and arts organizations, like Kaohsiung Film Festival, and many Taiwanese VR experiences being curated at major festivals from Cannes, Venice and Sundance, Taiwanese “cinema” is truly breaking barriers and innovating in the future of cinematic storytelling.

Director Hsin-Chien Huang and producer Estela V. Chen (YOUR SPIRITUAL TEMPLE SUCKS) will be in attendance to participate in onsight Q&As. 


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