"Long Time No Sea (只有大海知道)" — a poignant Taiwanese tale of young loss and coming of age — received the Special Jury Prize in the New Directors Competition of the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival on June 9.
Set upon Taiwan's outlying Orchid Island, home of the indigenous Tao (Yami) community, this impressive debut by director Heather Tsui (崔永徽) is an uplifting and family-friendly tale that brings together a young lad and a rookie teacher to train for an aboriginal dance competition that will take them closer to their dreams.
Eight remarkable films were shortlisted for the SIFF New Directors Competition for their original concept, striking style, and overall excellence, with the jury statement acknowledging Tsui's "commitment to ensuring that stories of unseen communities are told."
"Long Time No Sea" was screened in Seattle from May 30 through June 8, with actors Chung Chia-chun (鍾家駿) and Ou Lu (呂鷗) in attendance for post-show panel discussions, followed by a June 9 session at Bellevue College. The 15-year-old Chung, who is also known by his Tao name Si Pangoyod, was named Best New Performer at last year's Golden Horse Awards for his role as the young protagonist Manawei.
"It's been an incredible 25 days full of important stories from around the world," SIFF Artistic Director Beth Barrett said at the June 9 awards ceremony.