Michigan Taiwan Bunun Indigenous Music Festival closed on Oct. 27 after launching nine events introducing Bunun music, instruments, mythology, and culture through musicals, films, and special lectures. Through online and offline events, the festival reached over 26,000 people, exposing them to the precious cultural heritage and ongoing stories of the Bunun people.
The in-person events included screenings of the movie "Listen Before You Sing (聽見歌再唱)" at Oakland University and the University of Michigan's Flint campus, with Flint Mayor Sheldon A. Neeley, Director of the Taipei Cultural Center in New York Chang Hui-chun (張惠君), and Vice Consul Lin Chia-ming (林家銘) of the Chicago Office making special appearances. Director-General of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago Johnson Chiang also expressed his congratulations by video.
The story of the film tells of a Bunun teacher leading students from an elementary school in participating in a choral competition, with the children finding the confidence to sing the songs of their people with their own voices, which moved the audience to tears. During the post-screening discussion, the audience talked with director Shine Yang via live stream, asking questions about how the Bunun people are preserving their culture, how the people reacted to the film, and the biggest challenge in making the film.
Lawrence Baranski, director of Public Programs for the Detroit Institute of Arts, remarked on being pleasantly surprised to find that the musical "Sing, Pray, Pasibutbut: A Bunun Musical" and the Bunun Music and Film International Online Symposium had already broken the record for online programming at the institute this year, with a combined total of more than 5,000 viewers.
In an exclusive interview with CTN Ann Arbor, the director of the Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Chang Hui-chun, mentioned that having been through the pandemic has boosted the value of friendship and cross-cultural exchange- sharing Taiwan's Bunun culture with an American audience, learning from each other's different cultures, this has made our cross-cultural ties even closer.