2023 country in focus: Taiwan
Yi Yi, Taiwan in the spotlight!
On the world map of cinema, Taiwan is a country that stands out. You may recall at the end of the 1980s, the invigorating breath referred to as the new Taiwanese wave, a cinema that broke from the cinema of propaganda, the romances and the nostalgia of a lost China: Hou Hsiao-hsien, Edward Yang (the title of this retrospective is a nod to one of his films), Ang Lee and Tsai Ming-liang played a key role in the birth of Taiwanese auteur cinema and, more broadly, in this background movement that has brought Asian cinema to the forefront of the international scene for over thirty years. These directors are distinguished by their aesthetic biases and their questions about Taiwanese identity. Despite an industry under surveillance and increasing Chinese military pressure, their dissonant and popular cinema has developed and instilled a discourse that turns the dominant line of thought on its head.
Through the films in this retrospective, it is a question of understanding how an identity, not unique but plural and constantly evolving, takes shape, with a mixture of influences from Confucianism, Han, but also Japanese culture, European, American and the aboriginal peoples of Taiwan. By becoming, for example, the first Asian country to recognize same-sex marriage in May 2019, and given the crackdowns in Xinjiang and Tibet and the takeover of Hong Kong, Taiwan confirms its status as a progressive outpost in the region.
Thanks to the restoration work begun a few years ago by the Kaohsiung Film Archive, we will be able to see The Skywalk is Gone by Tsai Ming-liang (2002), but also the very disturbing Hu xi (Breathe) (2005) of Ho Wi-ding, which tells a tragic love story in the middle of a pandemic. Ho Wi-ding will also be a member of the international jury. Wu Ke-xi, screenwriter and lead actress in the feature film Nina Wu directed by Midi Z, in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and released in theatres in December 2019, will be a member of the Lab jury. The Palace on the Sea, a short film bringing together this duo in a virtuosic choreography, will also be present in this retrospective. Young artists no longer want their creativity restrained and no longer hesitate to claim Taiwan’s identity and history. Having been previously selected in the Lab, we will once again have the pleasure of showing the works of two young directors, full of freedom and visual audacity: The Sound of Falling by Lin Chien-yu (Festivals Connexion award in 2019) and Yen Yen by Lin Chunni in 2015.
- Four programs consisting of twenty-four films make up the bulk of the spotlight. Special note: several of the filmmakers will be on hand at the Festival.
- Two programs of films by this year’s invited Film school which is the TNUA – Taipei National University of the Arts.
- One Collections program invites us to discover rare experimental documentaries from the 1960s that have been restored specially for the occasion.
- One Bloody Night program features gory short films at a single showing on Friday 3rd February at 9:30pm in the main Salle Cocteau.
- Several sound installations are also an integral component of the spotlight on Taiwan, helping to foster a perfect immersive experience. A sound creation by Yannick Dauby will be located in the Comédie’s Halle des pas perdus, and sound labels will be broadcast before each of the retrospective’s showings.
- The Spotlight on Taiwan will also feature two worthy representatives among the Juries. The director and scriptwriter Ho Wi-Ding wil be on the International Jury, while the actress and scriptwriter Ke-Xi Wu will be on the Lab Jury. Ke-Xi Wu was also in Nina Wu, a film she co-wrote with Midi Z.
- A Masterclass with director Midi Z, hosted by Neri Corrado, will take place on Tuesday, January 31. This Taiwanese director, whose short film The Palace on the Sea will be part of the retrospective, was selected at Cannes in 2019 in the Un certain regard category with his film Nina Wu.
Highlight on taiwanese gastronomy
The restaurant Les Grandes Tables (next to La Comédie) will be offering a menu prepared by the Taiwanese chef Andy Chien. Beer lovers will not be left out as there will be a vat of Taiwanese-Auvergnat beer available in bottles and on tap throughout the Festival!