The CinemAsia Film Festival scheduled for March 5 through 10 in Amsterdam will be screening six stellar cinematic productions from Taiwan. The selection ranges from urban anguish to comedic terror, ethnography, and social documentary.
"City of Last Things (幸福城市)" follows a former cop wandering the high-tech streets of a futuristic Taiwan in search of revenge and a lost love. Taiwan-based Malaysian director Ho Wi-ding (何蔚庭) tells a story of urban anguish while slipping and in and out of genres: dystopian, sci-fi, crime, mystery, romance, family. This puzzle box of a film is polished and revealing.
In "Dear EX (誰先愛上他的)," a widow is incensed when she finds out that her late husband's insurance beneficiary is his male lover. Jointly directed by Taiwan filmmakers Mag Hsu (徐譽庭) and Hsu Chih-yen (許智彥), this award-winning film ties together flawed yet empathetic characters in an intriguing knot of poignant secrets and unpredictable emotions.
"Father (紅盒子)" reveals how Taiwanese master puppeteer Chen Hsi-huang remains a haunted man living under the shadow of his late father, the legendary Li Tian-lu (李天祿). Rather than filming a conventional tribute, Taiwan director Yang Li-chou (楊力州) is critical and poignant in his complex portrayal of a proud but tormented artist.
"Long Time No Sea (只有大海知道)" combines family-friendly drama with rich ethnographic detail, depicting a generation of children disconnected from their roots as they grow up with absent parents seeking better lives elsewhere. Writer-director Heather Tsui (崔永徽) hopes to shed light on the plight of the Tao, who number just over 3,000 and have lived on Orchid Island for 800 years.
"Secrets in the Hot Spring (切小金家的旅館)" follows three goofy high schoolers who begin to run into things that go bump in the night at a family-run hot spring hotel. This rambunctious horror comedy from Taiwan director Lin Kuan-hui (林冠慧) is spooky, cute, and sports a surprisingly heartwarming ending.
"Turning 18 (未來無恙)" depicts a pure coming-of-age story while addressing poverty in rural Taiwan, LGBTQ rights, and sexual abuse. Continuing with her acclaimed series on marginalized communities and socio-economic issues, filmmaker-journalist Ho Chao-ti (賀照緹) followed the rocky paths of her fragile subjects for several years in this beautiful yet heartbreaking documentary.
The films will be screened at Amsterdam's Kriterion film theater from March 5 through 10. More information is available at https://cinemasia.nl/en/film-programme-2019/#taiwan and https://www.kriterion.nl/cinemasia-2019-2.