Due to the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting humanity worldwide, this year’s SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN, presented by the Ministry of Culture ROC and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles, is truly unique and of note, simply because as other nations have failed to contain and control the pandemic in their regions, Taiwan has emerged as a front leader on how to implement smart, reasonable, yet aggressive strategies to rise above the ranks as one of the rare success stories in a 2020 that is full of doom and gloom.
The film festival ecosystem, much like all industries across the board, has been severely harmed as cinemas closed, large gatherings are no longer authorized, and social distancing and wearing of masks (apparently, a political statement in many regions of the world, including right here in the U.S.), are part of our daily lives to thwart the spread of COVID-19.

On the flip side in Taiwan, good governance based on data and science, as well as civic engagement and community collectivism has brought back a semblance of “normal life.” As festivals were shuttering in the spring and summer of this year, the annual Taipei Film Festival went forward with live screenings in cinemas and even an opening night party that was streamed live online (to the envy of other film festival organizers). Taiwan, as well as other countries like New Zealand, Vietnam and a few others, have been success stories that have resumed the machinations of their economies including their robust and growing creative industries.

For this year’s SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN, the Festival is presenting 4 new feature films, 2 new short films, and a continuation of highlighting Taiwan’s pioneering cultural investment in XR with a focus on director John Hsu’s work in machinima, VR, and feature filmmaking. Make sure to join us for our live-streamed A CONVERSATION WITH JOHN HSU to learn about his fascinating career and embracing of new media that has caught the eyes of curators from Venice, Cannes and Sundance.

In addition, most of the Taiwanese films will be available to view online via HIFF’s streaming platform throughout the festival dates. On the other hand, I WEIRDO (coincidentally, a prescient film that was a sleeper hit when released in local theatres earlier this year) and A LEG (co-opener of this year’s Goldenhorse Film Festival, happening almost concurrently with HIFF) will be presented as live screenings at our cinema partner Consolidated Theatres. These live presentations will be adhering to the venue’s social distancing policies.


Presented by Ministry of Culture Taiwan and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles


In this SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN/HIFF40 XR TALK STORY, we chat with Hsu about his innovative work across many mediums, especially in VR and ‘machinima,’ and look at the new work flows that are happening in today’s filmmaking, led by Taiwan’s innovation in VR/XR technology to tell new ways of storytelling, as well as retaining the development and production of “traditional” cinema.

A Zoom link will be provided at registration.

About John Hsu

John Hsu (1981, Taiwan) obtained his master’s degree in the department of Radio, Television and Film at Shih Hsin University. His first TV film, REAL ONLINE, was awarded Best Fiction Film at the 2005 South Taiwan Film & Video Festival. It also earned him the Best Director Award at Golden Bell Awards, the biggest television award in Taiwan. Hsu is co-founder of AFK PL@YERS, the biggest machinima production group in Taiwan. Hsu has expanded his footprint in the virtual reality space with YOUR SPIRITUAL TEMPLE SUCKS (2018) and GREAT HOAX: THE MOON LANDING (2020), which he co-directed with Marco Lococo. Both works have been critically acclaimed, presented at major events like Sundance, Tribeca and Venice Film Festivals. His debut feature film DETENTION (2019), was based on a video game of the same name. It was nominated for twelve prizes at the 56th Golden Horse Awards and won five, including Best Adapted Screenplay, shared by Fu Kai-ling, Chien Shih-keng, and Hsu, as well as Best New Director for Hsu. He has a special interest in digital culture, video games, comedy and science fiction.


Purchase access to all the films in our 2020 Fall Festival. This gives you access to all of our programming November 5th – 29th, 2020.

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