The Taiwan Film Institute has partnered with the 29th Singapore International Film Festival to screen 11 documentaries in Singapore and offer some piercing insights on the burgeoning nation of Taiwan.
"Focus: Taiwanese Docu-Memories" will present the recent developments in Taiwanese documentary cinema. Comprising a tradition dating back to the pioneering works of the 1960s, these 11 films are more than mere vestiges of history — they feature an astonishing energy and an intimacy with the social issues of their time.
"Swimming on the Highway (1998)," for example, is a seminal documentary focusing on the toxic love-hate relationship between a documentarian and his unreliable subject, a depressive gay school mate. The follow-up, "Goodnight & Goodbye (2018)," will be screened as well, with filmmaker Wu Yao-tung in attendance.
"Realm of Reverberations (2015)," which probes deep into the complex politics and histories of a Taiwanese leper colony and its proposed demolition, is a stunning monument to the cycles of construction and destruction that accompany progress in a contemporary society. Its director, Chen Chieh-jen, is an influential figure who has challenged the limits of freedom of expression in Taiwan through guerrilla performances and public interventions.
"Stranger in the Mountains (2017)" centers on the Nationalist troops left behind in northern Thailand after the Chinese Civil War. The final installment of director Lee Li-shao’s trilogy on the Yunnan-Burma border explores the futures of these un-repatriated veterans through the lives and aspiration of their children, who navigate the blurred boundaries of their own identities as Thai or Chinese.
"Turning 18 (2018)" is an unflinching examination of rural poverty in Taiwan, confronting issues ranging from the casual racism faced by the country's indigenous communities, to the sexual abuse of minors and LGBTQ rights. Ho Chao-ti, director of this sweet but not saccharine documentary, will also be in attendance.
Rounding up the Taiwan-themed program in Singapore is "Docu-Memories Shorts," a kaleidoscope of documentary shorts that provide the personal insights of 6 filmmakers on the history and identity of a nation.
The program was made possible with the support of Taiwan Docs, a Taiwan Film Institute-led initiative that promotes Taiwanese documentaries abroad and assists local filmmakers in reaching a wider audience.
In other related news, "Dear EX (2018)" and "Cities of Last Things (2018)" are among the Taiwan-made feature films that will be screened in other segments of the 29th Singapore International Film Festival.