The Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles and the UCLA Film & Television Archive presented a timely survey of recent and classic Taiwanese films at the Hammer Museum's Billy Wilder Theater from Oct. 18 through 28 under the aegis of "Taiwan Biennial Film Festival 2019."
Inaugurated in 2017, the biennial festival not only expanded its film selection to encompass half a century of Taiwan cinema this year, but also broadened its scope of access by holding extra screenings and talks at the James Bridges Theatre on the UCLA campus and independent cinemas in downtown Los Angeles.
The 11-day film festival opened on Oct. 18 with an evening gala attended by Abraham Chu (朱文祥), director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles; Emma Yang (楊婷媜), director of the Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles; Taiwanese movie producer Aileen Li (李耀華) and "Heavy Craving (大餓)" director Hsieh Pei-ju (謝沛如); and curators Paul Malcolm and Brian Hu.
From fictional narratives and documentaries, to blockbuster hits, art house gems, and short and experimental works, the second edition of the Taiwan Biennial Film Festival arrived at a time of significant cultural change for the nation.
In May of this year, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. At the same time, the Taiwanese film industry is increasingly determined to chart its own course in the region as a rapidly emerging center of production for both its booming domestic market and for Mandarin-language film audiences abroad.
This year's biennial reviewed how Taiwan's filmmakers are responding to and representing these contemporary developments. Diversity and gender equity on screen and behind the camera have emerged as energizing themes, along with continuing engagement with questions on political, cultural, and personal identity.
Featuring timely conversations with visiting Taiwanese film professionals, a special "Focus on Taiwan" program was also held on Oct. 19 at the Billy Wilder Theater. The inaugural keynote speaker, Li the legendary producer behind such films as thriller "Detention (返校)" and drama "Forest Debussy (德布西森林)," was joined in conversation by esteemed UCLA professor Michael Berry.
The keynote dialogue was followed by two panels. Exploring the strategies and opportunities for selling Taiwanese films in international markets, the first panel saw lively discussion among Cheng Cheng Films’ Yalin Chi, MandarinVision's Desmond Yang (楊鎧宇), and festival curator Hu.
Discussing the current state of gender representation in Taiwan’s film industry, the second panel received input from writer-director Chen Mei-juin (陳玫君), composer Hsu Wei-san (許瑋珊), writer-director Roxy Shih, and senior film programmer Lindy Leong.
The full list of movies and events is available at: https://www.cinema.ucla.edu/events/2019/taiwan-biennial-film-festival