A total of ten Taiwan documentaries have been selected for competitive award categories and special screenings at the biennial Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, which is taking place in Japan from Oct. 10 through 17 this year.
Among them are directors Su Yu-hsien (蘇育賢, also credited as Yo Hen So) and Hsu Hui-ju (許慧如), whose documentaries stood out from the competitive pool of 943 works in the "New Asian Currents" category and will be competing for the festival's highest honor — the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize. The "New Asian Currents" category introduces and supports the works of up-and-coming Asian documentary filmmakers while the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize comes with a 500,000-yen cash award.
Director Su, winner of the Taishin Arts Award, was nominated for his first long-form feature film "Hut (工寮)." Producer Liao Hsiu-hui (廖修慧) first thanked Public Television Service (PTS, 公視) for their sponsorship and offering the film team a large amount of creative freedom. For the documentary, they replicated a full-size temporary block-house and invited migrant workers to stay there, in order to film their genuine interactions and responses to the situation.
Based on this unique improv type of filming, the director was able to learn more about the featured migrant workers and present their personal experiences in the film "Hut." Commissioned by PTS View Point, the documentary will be broadcasted early next year.
Back in 2003, director Hsu won the Award of Excellence in the "New Asian Currents" category for "Hard Good Life (雜菜記)," and now, 16 years later, she will participate again in the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival. Hsu mentioned that "Temporary (臨時工)" was filmed using her spare time, therefore it is somewhat lacking in deeper field research, but her search for the truth is still reflected as the core theme of her documentary film.
Mickey Chen (陳俊志), a documentary film director who passed away at the end of last year, was a lifelong campaigner for advancing same-sex marriage and equal rights in Taiwan. The last time he attend YIDFF was back in 2011 as a judge for the "New Asian Currents" category. This year for "New Asian Currents Special Invitation Films," YIDFF will screen Chen's "Boys for Beauty (美麗少年)" — a film which he completed back in 1999, recalling the lifelong struggle for gender equality.
This year also coincides with the 8th anniversary of the 311 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, the 20th anniversary of the 921 Earthquake in central Taiwan, and the 10th anniversary of the 2009 floods triggered by Typhoon Morakot in southern Taiwan. Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Taiwan Cultural Center in Japan, YIDFF specially selected seven Taiwanese disaster documentaries for the "Cinema with Us" program.
This is the first time another country has been invited to participate in this section. The other five documentary works will be from Japan. The purpose of this program is help Taiwan and Japan start a dialogue through moving images and exchange experiences for future disaster prevention.
The seven selected works are Hsu's "Out of Place (鄉關何處)" and "Twelve Stories about the Flood (大水之後：關於家的十二個短篇)"; Huang Shu-mei's (黃淑梅) "Formosa Dream, Disrupted (寶島曼波)," "A Letter to Future Children (給親愛的孩子)," and "Coming Home (回家)"; Mayaw Biho's (馬躍．比吼) "Kanakanavu Await (Kanakanavu的守候)"; and Tsai Yi-feng's (蔡一峰) "Somewhere Over the Namasia (無聲的呼喚)."
In addition to the screenings, the Yamagata film festival will also hold a symposium on Oct. 15, inviting film director Huang, Distinguished Professor of Taiwan Literature and Transnational Cultural Studies at National Chung Hsing University Chiu Kuei-fen (邱貴芬), Taiwan International Documentary Festival Program Director Wood Lin (林木材), and scholars from Nagano University and Kansai University in Japan to discuss and examine the importance of disaster documentaries.