on the Highway
/ 1998 / Chinese / Color / Video / 49 min
Director: Wu Yao-tung
Producer, Source: Wu Yao-tung
2F, No. 14, Lane 80, ShingAn Street, Taipei 104 Taiwan
Born in Taipei in 1972.
Now a student at the Graduate Institute of Sound and Image Studies,
Tainan National College of Arts, majoring in documentary. Started
making documentaries in 1996. Has directed wl๊y๋Zx(1996), wพyเx(1997)
which won the Taipei Special Prize at Taipei Film Awards, and wnEใฤ๊ซะเข^๕ยWx(1998).
Swimming on the Highway (1998) won the Grand Prix in the Documentary
Section of Golden Grain Awards, and was screened at Hong Kong International
Film Festival 1999.
A 30-year-old man, self-destructive and anxious. A 26-year-old friend
with a video camera. This is a very personal film about their relationship
in the last years of a life - battling the HIV virus. The flamboyant
man flirts with the camera, playing with being the subject and object
of a film. The filmmaker is tormented, forcing himself to go on with
the filming. The sincerity of both in the face of undefeatable facts
On Taiwan's National Anniversary Day in 1997, under the fireworks
in Shi Men Ting, I started filming this documentary about the "love
and hatred" between Kuo-tang and me. On that day, I saw his lonely
silhouette walking in the crowd, sitting emotionlessly on the sidewalk
smoking cigarettes and drinking Taiwanese beer, throwing up in the
dark streets. Holding a camera, I thought to myself, "This is dramatic
enough. It would be fantastic as a film!" The bus was speeding down
the highway, day was about to break. In the bizarre blue light of
the dawn, his face, weary of the party the night before, reflected
clearly in the windowpane. His face was lean because of the illness,
but his eyes were still lively. "It's as if I spent all my life on
the road," he said, as if proudly announcing his wandering life to
In June of 1998, in the No. 14 Park next to Regent Hotel, I was keen
to end the filming. He sat in front of the camera, relaxed and calm.
I shouted at him, "Why are you like this? Aren't you afraid?" He said,
"I'm acting! I'm playing the person I used to be." I said depressed
to myself, "Finish as soon as possible!"
The filming lasted a whole year. What existed all the time between
us was the fight. The fight between the one who filmed and the one
who was filmed, the fight to control the camera, the fight of honesty
and trust between friends. But inside of him, it was probably the
fight of life and death. Of course I don't understand, how life can
be so bitter, desperate, anxious and indifferent. It is not a matter
of the essence of documentary or of interference. Nor is it a matter
of academic theories or practice. It is just me and him, the questions
between us, that's all.
COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee