Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Transnational Representations: New Book Release

My monograph, Transnational Representations: The State of Taiwan Film in the 1960s and 1970s, has been released with Hong Kong University Press!

Available for purchase at these links:

There are few more fascinating methods for investigating the ways in which Taiwan’s Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) Government defined itself as the representative government of all of China in the 1960s and 1970s than to consider its state-sanctioned film industry. Transnational Representations: The State of Taiwan Film in the 1960s and 1970s both excavates Taiwan’s socio-historical context and studies the cinematic form of the era employing an original transnational, comparative framework.

The title “transnational representations” refers to the text’s cross-border comparisons such as those between Taiwan films and films produced in Mainland China in the early 1960s, between Taiwan films and concurrent films from Germany and Senegal that represented the politics of migration, and between Taiwan New Cinema and global new cinema movements. The “state of Taiwan film in the 1960s and 1970s” refers to both the historical-material conditions in Taiwan during these two pivotal decades and the Chinese Nationalist Party’s presentation of itself as the representative government of all of China in terms of: its relationship to the People’s Republic of China (Chapter 2), film form and content (Chapter 3), depictions of gender identity (Chapter 4), and filmic adaptations of nativist literature (Conclusion).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

San Diego Asian Film Festival, Nov. 8, 2014

The "Taiwan Film Showcase," part of this year's San Diego Asian Film Festival, continued on Saturday November 8th with a string of films that represent the current state of Taiwan youth culture.

The short film segment was particularly impressive. Starting with THE BUSY YOUNG PSYCHIC 神算 (Chen Ho-Yu, 2013), a 29 minute film about a young woman who splits her time between two competing concerns, only one of them atypical: channeling spirits in a local temple and hanging out with her friends at high school. The film uses parallel editing so deftly that I intend to use it in my future film classes. Without a trace of irony or a heavy hand, the film juxtaposes our heroine on a night when she performs her duties as a priestess instead of going to a birthday party she desperately wants to attend. In the end, her intention to be a regular teenager is sacrificed by duty to her community.

THE POOL MAN 泳漾 (Kaidi Zhan, 2013), which runs a bit over 30 minutes, brings together an unlikely friendship between a swimming instructor who lives in the past and an overweight teenager who wants to learn how to swim.

PARTNERS IN CRIME 共犯 (Chang Jung-chi, 2014),a high school crime thriller that reminded me of Chan-wook Park's Stoker (2013) at times, was the film of the day. Boasting an impressive soundscape and slick soundtrack which I may also use as an example in future film courses, this film--like the brilliant, dark, and under-appreciated River's Edge (Hunter, 1986 -- with Crispin Glover)--tells the story of high school students dealing with the death of a classmate with little logic, supervision, or guidance to prevent their imaginations from spiraling out of control.

CAMPUS CONFIDENTIAL 愛情無全順 (Lai Chun-yu, 2013) was an excellent way to conclude the day of films--a legitimate crowd-pleasing romantic comedy that effortlessly earns its laughs as well as its surprises. Variety magazine claims that the film could likely be remade into other languages, so we'll stay tuned to that potential development.

With Director of KANO Umin Boya at the San Diego Asian Film Festival (11/7/2014)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

San Diego Asian Film Festival, KANO on Nov. 7, 2014

This year the "Taiwan Film Showcase" kicked off at the San Diego Asian Film Festival with KANO (2014), written by Wei Te-Sheng, and directed by Umin Boya who was in attendance.

A baseball film that represents real-life events that occurred in 1931, KANO depicts a local Taiwanese team from Jiayi (嘉義) that nearly wins the Japanese High School Baseball Championship in Japan during a time when Taiwan was a colony under Japanese imperialism. Almost entirely in Japanese, the film remains distinctly Taiwanese. And it is wonderfully paced--all of its 185 minutes zip right by.

We've seen films where a team earns the adoration of 50,000 fans. But have you seen a film in which a team stuns 50,000 into reverent silence?

Kano (dir. Umin Boya, 2014)