05-15 November 2020

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HIFF Blog

October 29, 2019

HIFF39 KAU KA HŌKŪ NOMINEE: 5 Questions with Hsieh Pei-Ju, director of HEAVY CRAVING

After winning the Audience Award at the Taipei Film Festival and premiering internationally at Busan this year, HEAVY CRAVING is building momentum as one of the best films out of Taiwan in 2019. HIFF39 is joining in the parade critical recognition by including it as one of the nominees of our prestigious KAU KA HŌKŪ Award.

Wrestling challenging subjects such as self-acceptance, social pressure, bullying, dysphoria, feminine ideals, and personal wellness, HEAVY CRAVING is certainly an ambitious first effort at a feature film by its director Hsieh Pei-Ju. We asked Hsieh about her process of making her indie darling below.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey as a filmmaker thus far.

I first studied film in Taiwan then earned my MFA in film directing at Columbia University. As a filmmaker, I'm interested in exploring diverse subjects and characters in an entertaining but sympathetic way. “Heavy Craving” is my first feature and I’m thrilled to share it with a worldwide audience.

What inspired and motivated you to work on HEAVY CRAVING?

Being an overweight teenager, I was literally called “Chubby” by family and friends. The experience makes me feel insecure about my body to this day. Later I realized it’s a very common thing in our culture to greet people by commenting on one’s appearance. I want to talk about this twisted phenomenon through the film by showing how much harm we might be causing by these careless actions, and how narrow-minded the society can be when it comes to a so-called proper body.

What were some of the greatest challenges of working on HEAVY CRAVING?

We have a character who’s a 10-year-old boy with a secret urge of cross-dressing. I was nervous and very careful with the role because it involves a child actor. We’re fortunate to find En-wei. He is a mature kid and an experienced actor, so he’s able to treat the role professionally with great compassion. I also sought advice on how I should explain to En-wei and other child actors about the role. The process went smoothly as the kids and their parents are all very understanding and open-minded.

What do you hope audiences will take away from watching HEAVY CRAVING?

HEAVY CRAVING tells a simple yet universal story that anyone who ever has trouble fitting in can relate to. It’d be great if the film can provide a little comfort to them knowing that they’re not alone and have people think twice before judging one’s appearance.

What are you and your HEAVY CRAVING’s plans beyond HIFF?

The film will be released in Taiwan a few days after our Hawai‘i premiere at HIFF. I truly hope the film could help the body positivity movement in Taiwan, and we’d be able to see more different body types on-screen and in media. 

Read about all the HIFF39 KAU KA HŌKŪ Award nominees. To read more about the film and purchase tickets, go to the HEAVY CRAVING program page.


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