The Red Leaf Legend

TAIWAN / 1999 / Chinese / Color / 16mm / 70 min

Director, Script, Narration: Hsiao Chu-chen
Photography: Qin Ding-chang
Sound: Tu Duu-che
Editing: Chen Bo-wen
Music: Chen Ming-chang
Source: Regina Ho
8F, No.170-1, Sec. 3, Chong-chin South Road, Taipei, Zip 100 TAIWAN
Phone: 886-2-2305-7474
Fax: 886-2-2305-7444
E-mail: d2876515@ms5.hinet.net

Hsiao Chu-chen

Graduated from the Department of Economics at National Ching-hwa University in 1994. Formally worked as a journalist and is still a regular writer. Hsiao began making documentary films during her final year of university, focusing mostly on handicapped people and victims of Taiwan's White Terror. Her films have won numerous national awards, and her documentary Blood Stained Youth (1998) was nominated for the Taiwan International Documentary Biennial Festival and other int'l film festivals. She is currently making a film about military veterans on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Her works include, The Child Po-sheng (1994), Dragon Boat Festival (1996), Meeting of True Feeling (1996), Sun Love (1997), Suspect Truth (1998).

There is a legendary moment in the history of Taiwanese baseball (locally called "stick-ball"), currently the biggest sport at either the amateur or professional level. In 1968, elementary school students of an aboriginal village beat the world champion little leaguers from Japan in a shut out. The film looks up these heroes of a past era and follows the tragedy of their lives after that single moment of glory. The young director, known for her critiques of Taiwan's modern history, sheds light on the government's shifting attitudes, the media's exploitations, and the realities of life for aboriginal people.

Director's Statement

In 1968, Taiwan was embroiled in diplomatic uncertainty. It was in this year that the Red Leaf Junior Baseball Team, made up of members of the Bunun aboriginal tribe, played against a Japanese team at the Taipei stadium and beat them by 7 to 0. This victory not only laid the foundations for the development of baseball in Taiwan, but was also important in restoring self-respect to the Taiwanese people. Built as it was on the legend that they used "a stick for a bat and a stone for a ball" in training, it was a great inspiration to the people during this uneasy period of the island's history.
Thirty years on, over half of the Red Leaf Team has passed away before reaching age 40. People say that they drank themselves to death. But memory is a strange thing. It often captures one glorious moment - as people only remember the sweet taste of their victory and completely forget the tragic realities of their story.
I wanted to know what lay behind the legend, what secrets did it hide? Over a period of two years and extensive travel, I spoke with five remaining members of the team, visited the homes of deceased players and interviewed their descendants. At first I thought the story was one of unmitigated tragedy, but finally I discovered a ray of hope.
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COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee