Taiwan Cinema Toolkit (TCT), organized by Taiwan Film Institute and subsidized by the Ministry of Culture, provides an authorized Taiwanese film database for overseas non-profit use, offering screening materials in different formats for various forms of non-profit screenings abroad. TCT also includes introductions and critiques of selected films as well as other promotional materials, such as film stills, on our website. A film brochure is compiled every year to offer the world quick and easy access to the best of Taiwanese cinema.
Since 2013, we have accumulated over 200 films on DVD, all recommended by prominent film directors, critics and curators in Taiwan. In 2016, we began providing screening materials in high-quality formats such as DCP and Blu-ray. Selected films are available for any overseas individuals, curators, and organizations to arrange screening events. We offer screening fee subsidies, aimed at sending our films to medium-sized or larger screening events to enhance the visibility of Taiwanese cinema around the world.
This year, TCT has selected 20 Taiwanese films organized into four sections:
“Director in Focus: HSIN Chi” includes four restored Taiwanese-language films by HSIN, selected from his eight existing films. HSIN was keen on experimenting with different subjects, visual styles and techniques. The Bride Who Has Returned from Hell (1965), based on the novel Mistress of Mellyn, is a localized adaptation in the Gothic romance genre laden with expressionism and brimming with creative mise-en-scène. A series of hauntings occuring in a mansion reveal a women’s struggle for higher status under the feudal system. Encounter at the Station (1965), adapted from a popular novel, centers on a love triangle seen from an omniscient point of view. The film’s gripping storyline and strong emotions make it one of the best Taiwanese-language family melodramas from the genre’s pinnacle. Inspired by a local news story in Taiwan, The Rice Dumpling Vendors (1969) departs from Taiwanese-language popular dramas where sacrifices for family are often tied to female characters, to tell the story of a man who, after losing his social and economic status, regains his place in family through sacrifice and ordeal. Dangerous Youth (1969), written and directed by HSIN, dissects a capitalist society in moral decay through the relationships between a prostitute, a pimp and a procuress. The film’s unflinching representation of corporeality and desire and New Wave aesthetics make Dangerous Youth the most avant-garde and piercing Taiwanese-language film existing today.
“Island Voices: Original Stories of the Land” selects six documentaries and four feature films that embrace topics include Indigenous peoples’ return to their roots, reclamation of self-identity, and their deep care for land as seen from the eyes of Indigenous directors and various ethnic groups. Topics in the documentaries cover history, environment, culture, arts and social movements. Short Films of Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples from the Japanese Colonial Period (1920-1939) captures on 35mm film the lives of Taiwanese Indigenous peoples under Japanese colonial rule, offering a precious insight into the colonizers’ “civilizing missions”. Voices of Orchid Island (1993) uses three vignettes to reflect the confusion, conflict and adjustments required when different ethnic groups make contact. The film revolves around the Yami’s(Tao’s) opposition to tourism, the collision between religious faith and modern medicine, and the Yami(Tao) youths’ anti-nuclear movement. Documentary Pusu Qhuni (2014) follows historical epic Seediq Bale (2011) to explore the history of the Seediq ethnic group. Through literary reflection and dictation from descendants of the Wushe Uprising, the film reveals the lives of surviving members in their resistance against Japan after the Wushe Incident. Millets Back Home (2013), told through the director’s perspective and voice-over, connects the daily lives of three families through the growing and cooking of millet to bring to light current issues faced by Indigenous villages. In Gi Rahitzu (1999), the first-person narrative tells of artist Rahic Talif’s course through life, focusing on his angst and confusion about his name and identity, and how he connects with ancestral spirits and mother culture through his art. Shot on 16mm film, The Mountain (2015) tells a simple story of an old man and the mountain from a third-person perspective. The film is intercut with modern Indigenous movements to bring attention to the plight of survival and the call for rectification of ethnic names.
The four feature films explore the Indigenous groups’ search for identity and complex social issues through everyday life. Panay (2015) draws on actual events to address the Amis people’s attitude towards land development, population outflow and government irresponsibility, hoping to remind people of the value of the land. With a playful and heartwarming tone, Lokah Laqi (2016) sees the adult world’s complexities and difficulties through children’s eyes, probing into ethnic problems such as grandparenting, alcoholism and youth population outflow. Pakeriran (2017) tells the story of a young man returning to his ethnic group, embracing his roots and the ocean, and learning to understand himself, as a blossoming romance also shows the new generation’s way of searching for their Indigenous identity. Long Time No Sea (2018) follows a group of children who revisit their Yami(Tao) heritage through a dance competition, meanwhile addressing the issue of grandparenting on Orchid Island.
This is also the first year we chose not to use a thematic frame for one of the section. In “Reality Bites”, the various hashtags attached to each film allow film selectors to quickly select the films that suit their needs, and create discussion for the audience. As one of the few suspense thrillers produced in Taiwan, Who Killed Cock Robin (2017) slowly unravels the different versions of truth behind a car crash through meticulous editing. The Tenants Downstairs (2016), adapted from a novel of the same title, exposes twisted human nature as a landlord spies on his tenants, feasting on their secrets and desires. Inspired by recent social events and the director’s own urban experience, A Taxi Driver (2018) is a suspense-filled drama full of twists and turns that takes place over 24 hours. Exit (2014) depicts a middle-aged woman’s suppressed desire and her insurmountable loneliness as she single-handedly takes care of her mother-in-law. But a subtle physical contact with a patient accidentally leads to her sensual awakening. Cloudy (2017) , set in Taiwan’s aging society, pays attention to two women from two generations who dedicate their whole life to their family. The film truthfully reflects the lifestyles of Mainland immigrants and baby boomers, as well as the family bond/bondage common in Chinese society. A special collection in this section is the restored Typhoon (1962), directed by the godfather of Taiwanese art house, PAN Lei. Made in a still conservative era, the film depicts women’s desires, eventually leading to a stormy climax in the isolated Mt. Ali Weather Station.
Take a cinematic journey with us as we welcome your applications for screenings. For more information, please visit our website at toolkit.tfi.org.tw/en.