Wednesday, November 13, 2013

San Diego Asian Film Festival, Nov. 10, 2013

The two-day Taiwan Film Showcase presented by the San Diego Asian Film Festival continued on Sunday the 10th with three films and a free reception. It was a pleasure introducing the first film, A Breath From the Bottom, and being a part of the day's events.

A Breath From the Bottom 狀況排除 (Chan, 2012), a 42 minute, black and white film was first on the bill. The film, seemingly inspired by -- or a reflection of -- current political demonstrations occurring in Taiwan, depicts a father participating in an anti-government protest and the conflict that results when one of the police officers monitoring the event is his son. A Breath from the Bottom was an Official Selection of the 2013 International Film Festival Rotterdam, and winner of Best Director at the 2013 Taipei Film Festival.

Forever Love 阿嬤的夢中情人 (Aozaru Shiao, Toyoharu Kitamura, 2013) was the crowd-pleasing second film in the set. Co-director and actor Toyoharu Kitamura arrived from Taiwan to participate in the event, answer questions in a Q and A session after the film, and take pictures with attendees afterwards.

Co-director and actor Toyoharu Kitamura (left) discusses his film Forever Love.

While not one of the film's biggest fans, I enjoyed the way Forever Love uses humor to depict the golden age of Taiwanese film-making (taiyu pian) in Taiwan in the late 1960s, a time when (as the film suggests) free spirits pursued their love of film with few inhibitions. The director mentioned that he wanted the film cause his audience to laugh, but also to cry -- and based on a show of hands during the Q and A session, when audience members admitted they were moved by the film -- it seems that the director accomplished his goal.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow 明天記得愛上我 (Chen, 2013) -- an Official Selection at both the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2013 Tribeca International Film Festival -- was the third film; unfortunately, I missed it -- I look forward to reviewing the film in the future.

As stated on the Taiwan Film Showcase website the event was: "co-presented by the UCSD Chuan Lyu Endowed Chair for Taiwan Studies and the UCSD Taiwan Studies Lecture Series, with additional sponsorship from the Taiwan Ministry of Culture and the Taiwan Academy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles."

Monday, November 11, 2013

San Diego Asian Film Festival, Nov. 9, 2013

The Taiwan Film Showcase -- a wide variety of Taiwan films presented by the San Diego Asian Film Festival -- kicked off on Saturday November 9th at UCSD's Price Center. Festival Art Director Brian Hu introduced the event and the day's first film, A Rolling Stone 築巢人 (Shen, 2012), Grand Prize Winner at the 2012 Taipei Film Festival 台北電影節.

Taiwan Film Showcase poster at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, 2013.

A Rolling Stone delivers its story in layers. Rather than depicting a father's relationship with his son with autism in a linear fashion, this documentary shows the son at an art gallery presenting his geometric drawings of bees and hornets, or the father receiving questions in a cold and grey room -- responding as if in the presence of a psychoanalyst. Each excerpt from their lives is held for the perfect amount of time. Almost all of the shots are medium shots and close-ups, never really providing the full picture. But providing just enough to wonder why it is that we persist living in the ways we do, and if we really have a choice.

To My Dear Granny 親愛的奶奶 (Chu, 2012), the Opening Night Film of the 2012 Golden Horse Film Festival, was next. I had the opportunity to introduce this film and then appreciate the way the film makes startling connections between cinema and memory. In fact, there were moments in this otherwise sticky-sweet film that made me entirely forget I was watching a film. The narrative is essentially a series of flashbacks presented by a protagonist who recalls his grandmother's influence while growing up in Taiwan. The scenes in which the child's memory allows for his deceased father to be present among the living are incredibly effective and definitely worth checking out.

The Sandwich Man 兒子的大玩偶 (Hou, Wan, & Tseng, 1983) was the third and final film of the day on Saturday. This three-part film remains astounding for a number of reasons -- the moment in time in which short story writer Huang Chunming's 黃春明 stories were presented on the silver screen is certainly pivotal in Taiwan film history, and the film's first segment, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien remains endearing. Yet the third story, directed by Wan Ren, continues to grow on me. It begins in black and white, and changes to color when focusing on the blood of a working class laborer who is struck by a car driven by a U.S. military serviceman in 1969. The transition from black and white to blood red, the blood of the worker, sets the tone for a short piece that retains its good humor while presenting a searing critique of inequality.

 With SDAFF Art Director, Brian Hu.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

San Diego Asian Film Festival, 2013

... looking forward to attending, tweeting, and blogging at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, November 7-16, 2013.

Also, with gratitude to Brian Hu and the SDAFF organizers, I'm looking forward to introducing three films at the Taiwan Film Showcase (info. and schedule here) at UCSD’s Price Center Theater on Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th.

I'll be introducing TO MY DEAR GRANNY (Saturday the 9th at 1:45pm), THE SANDWICH MAN (Saturday the 9th at 4:05pm), and A BREATH FROM THE BOTTOM (Sunday the 10th at 1pm).

It will be an honor to introduce THE SANDWICH MAN in particular, having met Huang Chunming (黃春明), the author whose stories are adapted to the screen in this wonderful and important Taiwan film.

Meeting Huang Chunming at UCSB in 2008 while attending a literature conference as a Ph.D. student.