A Reunion of Taiwan and Japanese Filmmakers: 12 Years Later

Message   Feng Chi-tai

Co-presented by Council for Cultural Affairs Taiwan,
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan

Jump! in This Year of the Rabbit

The 1999 YIDFF was a monumental year for Taiwanese documentaries. An unprecedented number of quality films, 12 total, were screened, and nearly 30 Taiwanese guests attended, leaving a lasting impression of Taiwan’s strong momentum in the world of documentary film.

With the shock of the earthquake that devastated Central Taiwan in September of the same year still fresh, the Taiwanese documentary filmmakers plunged into a debate with others attending the film festival about the meaning and value of documenting through film. In the previous year, the Taiwan International Documentary Festival was started. An institution at the Tainan National College of the Arts began training young filmmakers in the art of innovative documentary film production. Personal documentary filmmaking promised to serve as an artistic and democratic medium, giving voice to the lives of ordinary people.

On the last day of the festival, Wu Yao-tung won the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize for Swimming on the Highway, sealing the impression of a most memorable year for Taiwanese documentary.

This year marks one cycle in the Chinese Zodiac—12 years—since 1999. How is Taiwan documentary doing? While government subsidy programs, public broadcasting opportunities, and commercial releases seem to be expanding, how do the once optimistic young filmmakers feel about documentary today?

New Asian Currents 1999 also broke ground for Japanese documentary. Four filmmakers who presented films are returning 12 years later, having followed their respective ways in production.

On this occasion, 11 filmmakers from Japan and Taiwan will return to their “home” Yamagata to meet, interact, and reflect on the time passed. Films from then and now will be shown back to back and serve as a reunion party to commemorate and reflect on 12 years of documentary filmmaking.

Jump! in this year of the rabbit.

Fujioka Asako
Director, Tokyo Office