Three Taiwan-made films will be screened as part of the 68th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival from Feb. 15 through 25.
“14 Apples (十四顆蘋果),” a Taiwan-Myanmar production directed by Midi Z (趙德胤), follows a wealthy, Mandalay-based businessman who embarks on a 14-day hiatus at a Buddhist monastery in an attempt to cure insomnia. He is surprised that his newly shaved head and red robes have made him a respected figure among rural villagers, but also learns of certain monks profiteering off destitute followers.
From the Taiwan-based Burmese director who has been earmarked for bringing forth the third wave of New Taiwanese Cinema, “14 Apples” is a disturbing documentary about the seductive power of Buddhism whose ideals are not merely humanist in this era of globalization.
“Café Togo (多哥咖啡),” by Taiwan artist Musquiqui Chihying (致穎) and Germany’s Gregor Kasper, examines the campaign to rename streets with colonial connotations in the so-called African Quarter of Berlin-Wedding. It also explores Black activist Abdel Amine Mohammed’s vision of a multidimensional politics of memory.
“Xiao Mei (小美)” by director Maren Hwang (黃榮昇) is a film about the tormenting presence of absence. When the eponymous shop girl disappears without a trace, nine people from her immediate surroundings try to fill the empty space left behind this supposedly insignificant young woman.
In his film debut, former advertisement director Hwang explores the riddle of identity and how reality and truth are both human constructs. While there is no such thing as a comforting solution to this exploration, the effects that subjective perception have on memory are visualized with sophistication in “Xiao Mei.”
“14 Apples” will be screened as part of the Berlinale Forum segment, “Café Togo” will be shown on “Forum Expanded,” while “Xiao Mei” has been selected for Berlinale Panorama. Hwang is also shortlisted for the GWFF (Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Film- und Fernsehrecht) Best First Feature Award.
In other related news, Taiwan documentary maker Huang Hui-chen (黃惠偵) will join 250 budding filmmakers from around the world at Berlinale Talents, the film festival’s annual talent incubation program. Huang’s “Small Talk (日常對話)” won the top Teddy Award for best queer documentary at last year’s Berlinale.
For Berlinale Talents, Huang has prepared “LOMA – Our Home,” a proposed documentary on an anti-relocation movement regarding Sanying (三鶯部落), an indigenous Amis community in New Taipei’s Sanxia District. This will mark Huang’s second collaboration with auteur Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢).