Skip to main content

Anthology Film Archives to present Taiwan indigenous documentaries

  • Date:2023-03-10~2023-03-14

The Taipei Cultural Center in New York is working with Anthology Film Archives, an international center with a special focus on independent and avant-garde cinema, to present a program titled "Indigenous with a Capital 'I': Taiwan Indigenous Documentaries from 1994 to 2000" from March 10 to 14. Indigenous Taiwanese director Mayaw Biho and Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute programmer Chung Pei-hua will attend post-screening Q&A sessions each day from March 10 to 12.

This series, which was curated by Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute and first presented in 2021 Taiwan International Documentary Festival (TIDF), selects 16 films produced between 1994-2000 by indigenous filmmakers who studied in film academies, worked as journalists, or attended local training camps on cultural/historical documentary filmmaking. The series explores these early productions through their core topics, viewpoints, aesthetics, and approaches. Productions from this era may be regarded as the first wave of indigenous cinema in Taiwan, and they preserve invaluable historical records that inform our understanding of Taiwanese society today.

The program's title is a tribute to the late Maori director Barry Barclay, who first introduced the concept of "Fourth Cinema"(indigenous cinema) in the 1980s to promote two essential ideas: that indigenous stories in films should be interpreted by indigenous people, and that the indigenous "interiority" should be recognized and highlighted as a creative force. Owing to fast-developing technologies and the wider availability of affordable equipment, the 1990s saw an explosion in Taiwanese documentary filmmaking, and indigenous filmmakers picked up their cameras to tell authentic stories of their own communities.

According to the series' head programmer Wood Lin, "We can see different schools of aesthetics at work in these early productions by indigenous filmmakers, possibly due to the fact that the filmmakers were trained in different methods by different organizations. However, the contents of these films all revolve around similar issues of land and cultural loss, identity crisis, class differences among ethnic groups, and clashes between tradition and modernity. All of them feature strong personal viewpoints and direct narratives, which reveal the urgency within the filmmakers at a time when the pan-indigenous movement in Taiwan was happening."

In addition, these images and records of yesteryear reflect the social and political situations in which many Taiwanese indigenous people still find themselves living under, even today. Therefore, this program also challenges unjust or imperfect present-day approaches and creates possibilities for a more diverse, inclusive dialogue moving forward.

(Photo credit: Photo credit: Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute)