The Taiwan Film Institute (TFI) premiered its first two digitally restored Taiwanese documentaries – “The Mountain (上山)” and “Taiwan Cinema News Film No. 002 (臺影新聞片002號)” – at SPOT Huashan Cinema on Sept. 28.
“The Mountain” is a documentary directed by Richard Chen Yao-chi (陳耀圻) in 1966. The modernist narrative of the film, which was quite distinctive from the prevalent propaganda films at that time, reflected young people’s longing for freedom in the 1960s.
Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun attended the Sept. 28 premiere, noting that the restoration of “The Mountain” marked an important milestone for TFI as it is the institute’s first digitally restored documentary. The two young male leads, Huang Yong-song (黃永松) and Mou Tun-fei (牟敦沛), help bring audiences back to the 1960s, a time where a new generation explored and discovered their inner selves.
“To restore imagery is to restore history,” Minster Cheng quoted film scholar Jiing Yng-ruey (井迎瑞) as saying. Restoring film assets is one of the first steps towards preserving the nation’s cultural heritage, which in turn serve as an important foundation for developing Taiwan’s film and audiovisual industry, Cheng explained.
TFI Director Chen Pin-chuan (陳斌全) explained that director Chen Yao-chi presented the modern aesthetics of realism and the directness of European cinematic tradition as early as 1966. A restored film is like a brand-new creation, he added, and audiences of a new generation should re-interpret the documentary.
TFI has dedicated considerable resources to the digital restoration of films. With support from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science and Technology, over 20 Taiwanese films – including “A Touch of Zen (俠女),” “The Young Ones (彩雲飛),” and “Back to Anping Harbor (回來安平港)” – have been successfully restored since 2013.
This July, TFI established the Digital Restoration Lab after four years of preparation. Along with the the Taiwan Cinema Restoration Project, TFI has been steadily upgrading its digital restoration capabilities through the procurement of facilities and experts.
The laboratory is now fully equipped and is working on integrating previous experiences into its film restoration work to bring back more classic Taiwanese films. It is now working on restoring director King Hu’s (胡金銓) 1979 wuxia film “Raining in the Mountain (空山靈雨).”
The restoration team will also continue to advance its skills and learn from international professionals. It has previously partnered with L'Immagine Ritrovata, the Italian film restoration laboratory that has helped restore “A Touch of Zen,” on enhancing the TFI’s techniques for digital restoration.
Earlier this year, the team also visited the Korean Film Archive to gain more insights. The team will soon receive training at France’s National Center of Cinematography, which signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Culture last year.
To strengthen academic and industrial collaboration, TFI is also working on the restored version of “The Husband’s Secret (丈夫的秘密)” in collaboration with Tainan National University of the Arts.
Digitally restored Taiwanese films, including “The Mountain” and “Taiwan Cinema News Film No. 002,” are available for purchase from TFI here.
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