Straight from Taipei: Taiwanese Films at 8th Five Flavours Film Festival
In the capital of Taiwan, Taipei Film Festival is coming to an end. Straight from there, we reveal three titles of Taiwanese pictures from the program of the 8th edition of Five Flavours. The screenings will be the Polish premieres of the films.
ICE POISON (2014, dir. Midi Z)
A film by Burmese director, familiar to the Five Flavours' audience (his “Return to Burma” and “Poor Folk” were screened at the Festival), shown at festivals in Berlin and Hong Kong, and awarded at Edinburgh IFF. Critics called it the director's most mature work. Midi Z. shows a realistic picture of his fatherland, using simple means to paint the portraits of two young protagonists trying to find a new way of life in a place which, it would seem, holds no hopes for the future. To avoid working in a mine, a son of a poor farmer makes unsuccessful attempts to earn a living as a taxi driver. One of his clients is Sanmei, who managed to come back for her grandfather's funeral from China where, swindled by job agents, she was forced into marriage. In another world, their meeting could be a beginning of a romantic story, but here affection and sentiments are replaced by cold pragmatism.
"The original title of the film is “Bing du” - bing means ice, or drug", says Midi Z. "Drugs are illegal in Burma, which doesn't change the fact that there are a lot of them. Poor people grow poppy seed and produce illegal substances; this is how they make a living. The inspiration was a story of my childhood friends, who first started selling drugs to China, and later began taking the, too."
Ice Poison, dir. Midi Z
"Ice Poison" crew's greetings for Five Flavours, straight from Taipei:
EXIT (2014, dir. Chienn Hsiang)
In his second feature, Chienn Hsiang paints a subtle portrait of three generations of women. The central character is 45-year old Ling (Chen Shiang-chyi, known from Tsai Ming-liang's pictures), who silently faces the overwhelming reality: loneliness, menopause, loss of the job, obligations to the ill mother-in-law, severance of the bond with her daughter. While visiting the mother-in-law at the hospital, she discretely observes a severely wounded man lying in the next bed. Eventually, she also begins to take care of him.
"One outstandingly hot day, I met a woman on a bu; she was wearing a warm jacket. Her empty eyes did not express anything, but looking at her face I could tell that 20 years earlier she was a beautiful woman. I thought that there still must be young person inside her and I started to think about her past", says Chienn Hsiang about the origins of the film. In “Exit” he comments upon not just the social and cultural context in which women like Ling have to live, but also the economic changes that the Taiwanese society is undergoing after China and Taiwan tightened their economic cooperation.
"In Asia, the men control the situation after marriage. Nowadays, many of them leave Taiwan for China, searching for work in the bigger job market. Women my age stay at home, even when their husbands left and the children grew up. They are still under the thumb of their spouses and under the pressure of the social norms. And I believe that this is precisely the moment in life when their inner needs and dreams could be realized", says the director.
SOUL (2013, dir. Chung Mong-hong)
Psychological thriller by the director of “The Fourth Portrait” (the film closed the 6th edition of Five Flavours), which combines author cinema with generic conventions. The main character, Chuan, suddenly loses consciousness. Straight form the hospital, his colleagues drive him to the secluded house of his father. But it turns out that the man's body was possessed by somebody else. The foggy, rainy forests of the Taiwanese province become a setting for dramatic events. A familiar convention takes an intriguing form: horror is mixed with black humor, and unexplainable occurrences are a pretext for analyzing father-son relationships. The less you know the film before the screening, the better!
Soul, dir. Chung Mong-hong
The cooperation between Five Flavours FF and Taiwan goes back several years, and grows closer; the most interesting productions from the country are shown in Warsaw every year. During the 5th edition of the Festival, the focus section was devoted to Taiwan, and for the two following years the program included works of prominent directors of the Taiwanese New Wave (such as Ang Lee, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Sylvia Chang), screened from 16mm film.
Polish accents have also been present in Asia. This year, Taipei Film Festival presented over 30 Polish films, including new productions as well as the classics. The "City in Focus: Warsaw" project was prepared in collaboration with Five Flavours FF and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
The 8th edition of Five Flavours Film Festival takes place between 12th and 20th November 2014 in Warsaw.
The program includes the New Asian Cinema competition section, comprised of works by young filmmakers, Queer Asia section, and genre cinema, this year represented by horrors and Asian westerns.