Lin Yuxin, MA , Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Tsing Hua University
In the past, the Kanakanavu were classed as belonging to the Tsou people; they were regarded as a southern branch of the Tsou of Mount Ali. The Kanakanavu speak the Bunun language, owing to their proximity to Bunun tribal areas and the influence of the Japanese colonial policy. It was only in 2014 that the tribe received official recognition as one of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples.
In Kanakanavu Awaits (2011) Mayaw Biho uses the village of Takanua, devastated by Typhoon Morakot, to trace the Kanakanavu people’s complex historical development. He shows how, in their quest to achieve formal recognition, they have devoted themselves to retrieving their culture, language, and religious rites. The director also reveals the ways in which the Kanakanavu have dealt with the rupturing of their culture. In addition, the film indirectly examines government attitudes and approaches to reconstruction of aboriginal villages after the damage caused by the typhoon.
The film revolves around the vital importance of the Kanakanavu people’s fight to achieve formal recognition and shows how their cultural identity has been stifled and repressed since they were misclassified as Tsou people. In daily life and even in death, the Kanakanavu people have a very close relationship with the river Takanua, which plays a special role in their culture. The director reveals the special characteristics of the Kanakanavu people by considering their relationship with the soil, how they live from day to day, and how they use language to express themselves. When Mayaw Biho returns to the question of land, the documentary shows how, after the villagers have been forced to relocate in the wake of Typhoon Morakot, the elders are housed in temporary camps where they are unable to sleep. Staying in a place they do not regard as their own, they cannot settle down. And it is not only the Kanakanavu who are afflicted with this restlessness – the same is true of all Taiwan’s indigenous peoples.
Although they have suffered a catastrophe, the Kanakanavu in the film treasure life’s every moment and every opportunity to rebuild their culture. This is hinted at by the film’s subtitle, “The Deluge Cannot Wash Away the People’s Love for the Land.” Typhoon Morakot brings rebirth to the Kanakanavu people. Relying on the land that sustains them, they toil to bring new life to the tribe and in the process reveal their own worldview.
Director Mayaw Biho was born in Chunri Village in Hualian County’s Yuli Township, a member of the Amis Kasuga tribe. His documentaries deal with different issues, ranging from the history of traditional indigenous peoples, ethnic groups and cultures to the living conditions of aborigines in modern cities. He has also looked into the condition of non-aboriginal ethnic groups in Taiwan.
Kanakanavu Awaits trailer (Source: Wonderful Time Film Production)
|Related Literary Themes：||Aboriginal Literature|