Taiwan Film Festival UK

Curzon is delighted to welcome the inaugural Taiwan Film Festival, celebrating Taiwan’s long history and diverse cultural heritage.

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Dragon Inn

Opening film: Dragon Inn (龍門客棧)

Digitally restored in 4K, plus introduction to be confirmed.

Dragon Inn is a 1967 wuxia film written and directed by King Hu. One of the greatest swordsplay films of all time, it has inspired a number of film makers of martial arts and other genres, including Tsai Min-Liang win his FIPRESCI prize-winning film ‘Goodbye Dragon Inn’.

The Eunuch of the Emperor has ordered the commander of his army condemned to death for betrayal and insurrection. The commander's family have been murdered to cut off his bloodline, but his two youngest children, a son and a daughter, have been expelled from the empire to the outlands in an attempt to draw out the commander’s confidant and adviser.

The Eunuch sends his ultra-secret Black Arrow Troop to assassinate the two remaining children and the advisor. The ambush is to be carried out at the Inn Of Dragon's Gate at the border, but the Eunuch had not counted on the intervention of a band of expert swordsman. This film is a masterpiece of martial arts swords-play and speaks the tune of "The Swordsman" and the "Zatoichi" films. A must see for fans of classic Asian cinema.

Wednesday 3 April 6.15pm, Curzon Soho.

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The Tag-Along

The Tag-Along (紅衣小女孩)

Plus Q&A with writer Chien Shih-Keng.

The Tag-Along is the first in a horror trilogy written by Chien Shih-Keng, adapted from a well-known Taiwanese urban legend, "The Little Girl in Red".

Property agent Wei lives with his grandmother, but one day she suddenly disappears without a reason, and yet the routines of the house still continues as usual - the laundry is done, the house is well-cleaned as usual and even Wei's breakfast remains prepared every morning.

A clueless Wei then starts to search for his grandmother until he finds an unsettling video in his neighbour's camera, where a little girl in red was tagging behind his grandmother while she was hiking. When Wei's grandmother finally returns, Wei goes missing instead. Wei's girlfriend, Yi-chung gradually discovers that all these mysteries might be connected to the urban legend "The Little Girl in Red", and that the worst is yet to come.

Thursday 4 April 6.30pm, Curzon Soho.

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The Tag-Along 2

The Tag-Along 2 ( 紅衣小女孩 2)

Plus Q&A with writer Chien Shih-Keng.

The second in the Tag-Along trilogy from writer Chien Shih-Keng picks up where the first film left off.

Social worker Shu-Fen goes in search of her missing teenage daughter Ya-Ting after her sudden disappearance. She is told that her daughter was last seen in the company of a girl in red, leading her to begin to unravel the mystery behind the girl’s disappearance.

She meets the mysterious Mei-hua, who imprisons her own daughter inside her house covered with papers with spells written all over, and finds the missing and pregnant Yi-chun in an abandoned hospital.

Together, the trio return to the Red Forest to rescue Ya-ting, who disappeared in the first Tag-Along film.

Friday 5 April 6.20pm, Curzon Soho.

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Father

Father (紅盒子)

Plus Q&A with director Yang Li-Chou & producer Michelle Chu.

This is a documentary film about the art and the inheritance of Taiwanese traditional puppetry and the relationship between father and son.

Chen Hsi-huang is the eldest son of the puppet master Li Tian-lu. In 2009, at the age of 79, Master Chen left the Li family and set up his own troupe, which soon earned recognition all over the world. Nevertheless, this traditional art declined rapidly and Chen found no one to pass on his great skills...

The production of "Father" lasted for ten years. It not only recorded the inheritance mission of the eighty-year-old elders, but also explored the conflicts between the two generations. This film shows the master’s intelligent skills to give the puppet life on the big screen, trying to inject the unique charm of the traditional puppet show so as to bring it back to ordinary people.

Over the ten year shoot, due to control of language and diversity in entertainment, they saw the dying of this traditional puppetry culture. The film says goodbye to it in the most glorious way.

Monday 8 April 2.30pm, Curzon Soho.

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Long Time No Sea

Long Time No Sea (只有大海知道)

Plus Skype Q&A with actor Shang-Ho Huang..

Filmed on a South Pacific island, Heather Tsui's impressive debut based on her own real-life experiences, depicts a boy's courage and his quest for self discovery.

Raised by his grandma alone, MaNaWei lives a frugal and simple life in Lanyu, an island near Taiwan. His greatest hope is to see his absent father again, who is working in Taiwan. Yu Zhang-xun, a young teacher from Taipei, is assigned to MaNaWei's school in Lanyu. Feeling isolated and bored, he desperately wants to go back to Taiwan.

To their mutual surprise, they find the National Aboriginal Dance Competition is a great chance to go to Taiwan. As Yu undertakes the responsibility to attend the competition, he discovers the talent of MaNaWei, and puts him at the centre of performance. But he discoverd a big obstacle for the preparation: the children wouldn't want to wear their traditional costume to perform.

The unexpected difficulties make the preparation even harder, and MaNaWei is also nervous -perhaps he can finally meet his father again...

Monday 8 April 6.30pm, Curzon Soho.

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Reality Check: Taiwanese Short Films

Reality Check: Taiwanese Short Films (臺灣短片).

Our Suite de Danses (我們的組曲)

Dir. SHAKE | 2016 | Art | Mandarin, Pangcah | 7mins

In Trance We Gaze (恍惚與凝視的練習)

Dir. Chen Singing | 2018 | Art, Doc | Taiwanese, Mandarin | 20mins

The Glamorous Boys of Tang (唐朝綺麗男)

Dir. Su Hui-yu | 2018 | Taiwan | Art | 15mins

Blossom (繁花盛開)

Dir. Lin Han | 2017 | Taiwan | Mandarin | 25min

I Have Nothing To Say (媽媽的口供)

Dir. Ying Liang | 2017 | Taiwan, Hong Kong | Mandarin | 25mins

Taiwan Province of China (不曾消失的台灣省)

Dir. FU Yue | 2018 | Taiwan | Mandarin | 24 mins

Tuesday 9 April 9.00pm, Curzon Bloomsbury.

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God Man Dog

God Man Dog (流浪神狗人)

Plus Q&A with director Chen Singing.

A car accident involving a stray dog connects unlikely characters with life-changing results.

A hand model caught in an estranged middle-class marriage tries to recover from the loss of her baby, but neither religion nor extramarital affairs can help her. A poor aboriginal couple resort to God to get rid of their alcohol problems, transport top-class peaches to the city and hope to reunite with their daughters. A one-legged truck driver collects abandoned deity statues hoping to be blessed with a new prosthetic. Some of them will face a surprising turn in life, others will be caught in new dilemmas.

This multi-character rhapsody evokes the pluralism of community, class and religion, as well as their conflicts, in contemporary Taiwan. Contrasting values permeate the film: deities are reduced to objects worshipped to gain fortune, and expensive peaches discarded after a commercial shoot are poor people’s only source of income.

Diverse characters with different social positions and life experiences, are nevertheless united as wandering minds in search of spiritual redemption amid the impermanence of life.

Wednesday 10 April 6.15pm, Curzon Bloomsbury.

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Small Talk

DocHouse: Small Talk (日常對話)

Plus Q&A with director Huang Hui-Chen .

"A few simple questions spark a series of talks, which reveal some things that neither my mother nor I are sure we’re ready to face."

Anu is a tomboy. Although she was married off at a young age – as was customary in Taiwan in the 1970s – and had two children, she quickly divorced her violent husband and brought up her daughters alone.

Since then her only relationships have been with women who, like her, earn a living as professional mourners at funerals. One of her daughters is filmmaker Hui-chen Huang. It’s considered taboo in their culture to question a mother’s unconditional love, and yet this is exactly the topic of Huang’s intimate portrait.

Mother and daughter set off on a journey together into the past during which Anu is confronted with questions that have tormented her daughter for years. In a series of long shots the two women discuss such topics as trust, abuse and cognisance, and yet most of these discussions end in painful silence.

Shifting focus in order to plumb the depths of the depicted room, the director attempts to understand her mother by also talking to her mother’s siblings and ex-lovers. In doing so she paints a picture of changing living conditions for three generations of women in Taiwan.

Thursday 11 April 8.30pm, Bertha DocHouse at Curzon Bloomsbury.

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On the Happiness Road

On the Happiness Road (幸福路上)

Chi earned her American dream after persevering with her studies in Taiwan and moving to the US where she marries an American and becomes a US citizen.

Following the death of her grandmother, a wise member of the Amis tribe who had always been her source of advice and knowledge, Chi returns to her family on Happiness Road, where she begins to feel nostalgic about her childhood and starts to contemplate the meaning of "life" and "home".

What is happiness? Will Chi find her own happiness? Against a backdrop of political events in Taiwan over thirty years from the mid seventies, Hsin-Ying Sun’s film paints a moving and thoughtful picture of one woman’s quest for identity and personal fulfilment in a constantly changing environment.

Friday 12 April 9.15pm, Curzon Bloomsbury.

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The Walker

DocHouse: The Walker (行者)

Plus Q&A with director Chen Singing.

The deep rumble of drums opens the gate to the underworld and Sea Goddess Mazu gracefully leads the spirits towards it.

A scene from the ritualistic dance piece Miroirs de Vie (2006), created by internationally renowned choreographer Lin Lee-Chen and performed by her Legend Lin Dance Theatre. Lin has devoted her life to creating work that blends modern dance with religious ritual. Drawing from her own life, Lin turns her outlook into a calming physical strength in her choreography, giving the audience a chance to glimpse her inner strength and creativity.

Filmed over the course of ten years, this documentary is a poetic expression of Lin's persistence and creativity, capturing the internationally renowned choreographer’s meditations on life itself. Exquisite images of layered cloth and the contours of dancers’ bodies during the ritualistic performances enable the audience to explore the choreography with a tactile eye, while Lin reflects on her attitudes towards dance and aesthetics.

Unlike much Western dance that emphasizes speed, Lin's oriental aesthetic emphasizes the slowness of body movement and a reflexivity towards slowness itself.

Saturday 13 April 2.00pm, Bertha DocHouse at Curzon Bloomsbury.

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Ongoing - Shorts + Live Music

DocHouse: ONGOING Indigenous Movement: the Past, the Present to the Future (海嘯原民運動: 過去,現在到未來)

Plus live music by Panai Kusui & Ado Kaliting Pacidal.

The Dongpu Grave-digging Incident (東埔挖墳事件) by Green Team (綠色小組) | 1987 | 7mins

Orchid Island's Opposition To Nuclear Waste (蘭嶼反核廢料) by Green Team (綠色小組) | 1988 | 4mins

R.O.C. Government, Return Our Land! (中華民國 還我土地) by Green Team (綠色小組) | 1989 | 23mins

Panai Wandering (巴奈流浪記) by No Outsider (沒有人是局外人原轉小教室) | 2018 | 5mins

Ongoing Indigenous Traditional Territory Movement (還是要 抗爭的土地運動) by Ado Kaliting Pacidal (阿洛.卡利亭.巴奇辣) | 2019 | 5mins

A selection of short documentary films depicting the past, the present and the future of the Taiwanese Indigenous movement which started in the late 1980s when martial law ended and people protested on the street and revealed the darkest lie of nuclear waste on Orchid Island.

The Tao tribe have been protesting their land rights for over three decades, to millennial generations who can't use their indigenous languages in their daily lives - lose their original names, memories and traditional lands.

Filmmaker, singer and Indigenous activist Ado Kaliting Pacidal brings her latest work in progress documentary on indigenous land rights activists as seen through the central character Panai Kusui, a musician whose voice is like Mother Earth.

They've been protesting for over 700 days in front of the President's Hall in Taipei. The situation reflects the complex identities which co-exist on this island, Taiwan. It's an ongoing journey, on which Taiwan Film Festival will close this year's festival with live music and discussion – an action to be seen!

Sunday 14 April 2.00pm, Bertha DocHouse at Curzon Bloomsbury.

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