This October, the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival (Ji.hlava IDFF) in Czech Republic will present the first international comprehensive screening of Taiwanese documentaries dating from 1931 to 2015.
Co-organized by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Czech Republic and Taiwan Film Institute, the festival will feature 33 Taiwan films from Oct. 24 through 29. The selection was curated by Andrea Slovakova, who researched and interviewed Taiwanese filmmakers and scholars last year in Taiwan.
"Transparent Landscape: Taiwan” will screen documentaries from up to 80 years ago, offering insights on the nation's political development and history as well as the natural and social landscapes of early Taiwan.
The festival will present 8mm films including "Tamsui River, Sudden Rain, Bug, Spring (淡水河.驟雨.蟲.春)” by Deng Nang-guang (鄧南光), Taiwan's first creator of moving pictures.
Films made in the 1970s - including the first digitally restored documentary "The Mountain (上山)” by filmmaker Chen Yao-chi (陳耀圻), as well as classics like "A Morning in Taipei (台北之晨)” by Pai Ching-jui (白景瑞) and "Life Continued (延)” by photographer Chuang Ling (莊靈) - will be showcased to offer glimpses of common people's everyday life at that time.
"Green TV's Inaugural Film (綠色電視台開播片)” and "Against Dupont at Lukang (鹿港反杜邦)” by the Green Team (綠色小組), a group that aims to document social movements, will also be screened to show Taiwan's path towards democratization and how images were used as a tool to revolt against authoritarian rule.
In addition, the retrospective program will showcase experimental and original videos, including "Lingchi - Echoes of a Historical Photograph (凌遲考：一張歷史照片的迴音)” and "Factory (加工廠)” by noted contemporary artist Chen Chieh-jen (陳界仁).
"Escape from North Korea (脫北者)” by Magnum photographer Chang Chien-chi (張乾琦) as well as "Dwelling (棲居如詩),” "The 561 Hours of Occupation (佔領第561小時)” and "Walker (行者)” by visual artist Yuan Goang-ming (袁廣鳴) will be screened as part of the experimental section as well.
Early works of directors such as Chung Mong-hong (鍾孟宏), Wu Mi-sen (吳米森), Huang Ting-fu (黃庭輔), Lin Tay-jou (林泰州), Chen Hung-I (陳宏一), Jiun-huei Proty Wu (吳俊輝), Lai Fong-chi (賴豐奇), and Wu Hsiu-ching (吳秀菁) were also chosen for their pioneering aesthetics.
Films by emerging artists such as Chuang Kai-ting (莊凱婷), Liu Shi-min (劉時敏), Pan Yi-chieh (潘怡潔), and Hsu Chia-wei (許家維) have also been selected by Slovakova, who was impressed by Taiwan's experimental films for their social significance and aesthetic style.
Slovakova believes that Taiwan and the Czech Republic share some historic similarities. For example, the two nations used to make films only for propaganda, meaning experimental or avant-garde films were only available from the black market, she pointed out.
Slovakova hopes that "Transparent Landscape: Taiwan” could help European audiences understand the current situation of Taiwanese society and its environment for art, as imagery is the best tool for expressing independent thought.
Established in 1997, Ji.hlava IDFF will mark the 21st edition this year. As the largest and most heavyweight film festival in central and Eastern Europe, the festival focuses on discourse and communication, and promotes experimental and original works.
Each year, the festival attracts more than 40,000 filmmakers, professionals, and audiences. This year, film scholar Lee Daw-ming (李道明) and photographer Chang Chien-chi will attend the event to meet with audiences in person.
The Taiwan Film Institute's documentary team, named Taiwan Docs, will also participate in the festival to network with Czech professionals and introduce more Taiwanese documentaries to the world.
‘Transparent Landscape: Taiwan'