"Last Year When the Train Passed By (去年火車經過的時候)," an experimental short film directed by up-and-coming Taiwan filmmaker Huang Pang-chuan (黃邦銓), will hold its North American premiere in New York on Feb. 23 as part of Doc Fortnight 2019, the Museum of Modern Art's annual festival on international nonfiction film and media.
"What were you doing last year, when I took this photo from a train passing by your house?" asks Huang, 31, whose experience of train travel is at the heart of this project. "I'm always curious about the little houses I see through the window as I pass by."
The resulting 17-minute footage, captured in the countryside of France, unveils moving, dramatic, and sometimes comical stories about loss, sadness, love, and hope ― especially poignant are the people trying to build a life and give meaning to the things that happen to them.
The film also narrates on the workings of human memory and the tragedy of constant change that is life, as resilience drives people to keep persevering in spite of seemingly insurmountable events. The commentary, poetry imagery, and a compelling soundtrack by maestro Lim Gong (林強) will carry viewers to an enthralling climax.
The black-and-white film had its world premiere at Switzerland's Locarno Film Festival in 2018. Huang went on to capture the Award for Best Documentary as well as the Grand Prix of the Lab Competition at the 2019 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France.
"Last Year When the Train Passed By" was also named Best International Short Film by the 2019 London Short Film Festival, in which the jury were "charmed by this exploration of fleeting human connections and the idea of expanding the ephemeral moment when lives briefly intersect through travel."
Doc Fortnight 2019: ‘Last Year When the Train Passed By’