Spotlight On Taiwan

Presented by

Ministry of Culture ROC and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles

Representing The Next Generation of Taiwanese Filmmakers

In the 2023 edition of HIFF’s SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN, presented by the Ministry of Culture ROC and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles, the Festival is honored to present four feature films that represent the next generation of Taiwanese filmmakers who have all been educated overseas, primarily in major film schools in the United States. This showcase the trans-migration of Taiwanese to seek different education and new experiences to form their academic, creative and cultural point-of-views.

Interestingly, they have all returned to Taiwan to work and contribute to local cinema culture, with some of them working with esteemed and established maestros. A perfect example is Wern-ying Hwarng, who returned to Taiwan and worked as an apprentice to Hou Hsiao-hsien (CITY OF SADNESS), but in a different capacity, primarily in production and art design. Hwarng established herself as one of the most lauded designers in her field, garnering seven Golden Horse nominations alone. Her transition to director, is a milestone, with BE WITH ME opening the upcoming Golden Horse Film Festival after HIFF concludes.

FU Tien-yu also transitioned from novelist to filmmaker, who was also educated at New York University. DAY OFF, based on her hometown upbringing, is enhanced by the cinematic return of veteran actress Lu Hsiao-Fen, who graces the screen for the first time in over twenty years; A GIRL OUT OF THE COUNTRY‘s CHIU Hsin-Ta directs a film that is very much a throwback to family melodramas, starring popular TV actress Jean Kao; and Sen-I Yu’s MY HEAVENLY CITY is a love letter to New York City, her adopted home, in a triptych of stories about immigrants and the challenges of being of loneliness, cultural barriers and finding your own voice–an apropos, classic story of new possibilities and finding your voice in a new city, especially one as iconic as New York.

The fact that all the Taiwanese directors in this year’s spotlight had international education are were based in the West, shows this unique trend of Taiwanese citizens studying abroad and returning to be active members of the industry.