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New York's Anthology Film Archives Presenting "Taiwan B-Movies" Series in December

  • Date:2020-12-02~2020-12-15
New York's Anthology Film Archives Presenting 'Taiwan B-Movies' Series in December

New York's Anthology Film Archive will present "Taiwan B-Movies" series, including five crime blockbuster films from the late seventies and the 2005 documentary "Taiwan Black Movies," from December 2nd to 15th. This film genre was based on true events reported in the news, with stories relating to mafia violence and female revenge. Statistics show that between 1973 and 1983, 117 B-movies were produced. Contrasting greatly in style with the New Taiwanese Cinema films that began in the 1980s, B-movies, which gripped the audience's attention due to their vulgarity, were regarded as the downfall of the Taiwanese film industry. The Taipei Cultural Center in New York and Anthology Film Archives are jointly presenting the "Taiwan B-Movies" series, so that the audience may rediscover this chapter of Taiwanese film history barely known abroad.

The five Taiwanese B-movies include "Never Too Late To Repent"(錯誤的第一步, 1979), "Woman Revenger"(女性的復仇, 1982), "On the Society File of Shanghai"(上海社會檔案, 1981), "The Lady Revenger" (瘋狂女煞星, 1981) and "The Challenge of the Lady Ninja"(女忍者, 1983). Among them, "Never Too Late To Repent" and "Woman Revenger" were directed by Tsai Yang-ming (蔡揚名). Actresses Lu Hsiao-fen (陸小芬), Loretta Yang (楊惠姍), and Luk Yee Fung (陸儀鳳), renowned for their performances at that time can also be viewed on screen. Additionally, in order for the audience to gain a better understanding of the era's social context, Anthology Film Archives invited Taiwan Black Movies director Hou Chi-jan (侯季然), producer Kelly Yang (楊元鈴), film critic Cho Ting-wu (卓庭伍), as well as contemporary artist Su Hui-yu (蘇匯宇) to talk to the audience in pre-recorded introductions. Su excels in using recorded material to explore body politics. His latest work, "The Women's Revenge (2020)," which reimagines female revenge films genre, was launched at this year's Golden Horse Film Festival.

Hou Chi-jan's (侯季然) 2005 documentary "Taiwan Black Movies" successfully unveils this neglected part of Taiwanese film history. Since B-movies mainly depicted the darker side of society and the mafia and sensationalized the circumstances under which violence was perpetuated, they have become known as "black movies." Producer Kelly Yang points out that "the dark imagination in regards to crime in films like this seems to have opened a way for stimulation and releasing tension in a social environment where collective fear was the norm. The visual impact of rape, nudity and brutality was a direct echo of Taiwanese society's underlying fear of being dominated by the powerful."

According to the Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Taiwan was under martial law during that time, and B-films used their realistic depiction of society to justify their production under a system of rigorous film censorship and created box office successes. They were produced in large quantity but disappeared abruptly, resulting in a distinctive film style. Later New Taiwanese Cinema films which have enjoyed worldwide recognition also seem to carry forward this spirit of storytelling. Hopefully the American audience may come to appreciate the diversity of Taiwanese films.