Taiwan International Documentary Festival 2016

The Taiwan International Documentary Festival kicked off its 10th edition over the weekend, an important event for the region and one of the main avenue and showcase for non-fiction in Asia, the festival will last 10 days, till May 15th. 

Let’s take a look at the presentation for this year edition as written in the official brochure:

Founded in 1998, TIDF is now 18-year-old, reaching the age of adulthood. This year marks our 10th edition. With the core spirit o‘f Re-encounter Reality’, TIDF preserves its traditions as well as blazes new trails, aiming to present diversity, break boundaries and bring back the essence of documentary.
During the preparation of the film festival, we went through rounds of discussions, debates and brainstorming. Our initially vague ideas and perceptions were elaborated step by step. When most of the decisions have been made, it is the best time for us to examine our original intention.
This year we have arranged more Q&A sessions, set up a regular venue for professional interaction, organised a new interdisciplinary workshop, cancelled the policy of‘not allowing admission 20 minutes after each screening starts’, and launched a long-term volunteer plan DOC U. All these changes are made in the hope of making things more practical and convenient for festival-goers. It also means we are offering more accessibility and trust. In our programme, time, memory and aesthetics are in conversation. We have curated three special sections: Director in Focus: Hubert SAUPER, the Folk Memory Project, and the retrospective celebrating the 30th anniversary of Green Team. Although focusing on different regions and periods of time, these films share a power to challenge history, fight authority and bravely reveal the reality most people avoid. Furthermore, they lead us to reflect on how to take actions, make changes and be able to imagine the future.
As we progress along the trail of documentary, future does not lie ahead of us but rather in the past.
Welcome to participate in TIDF’s coming-of-age celebration. Let us walk into the cinema and re-encounter reality!

15 documentaries will take part to the International Competition, among them the Taiwanese Why Aren’t You Angry (2016) shot by Green Team and about the Wild Lily Movement, a student demostration that took place in Taipei in March 1990, and Le Moulin (Huang Ya-li, 2015) also from Taiwan, an experimental documentary that was one of my favorites of the past year (more here). There are many other interesting works from other parts of the world of course, but being this a blog devoted mainly to East Asian documentary, I’ll focus only to movies produced in that part of the globe. Also in competition Realm of Reverberations (Chen Chieh-jen, 2015), about the Lesheng Sanatorium in Taipei, a hospital for lepers established in 1930 during the Japanese colonial period, and a facility that although the government planned to demolish, it’s still there due to people’s opposition.
15 are also the documentaries shortlisted in the Asian Vision Competition, a section that intrigues me a lot for obvious reasons, I’m very happy to see that Aragane (Oda Kaori, 2015) and Dryads in a Snow Valley (Kobayashi Shigeru) will be part of the group. I’ve written many times about Aragane (here my recent review), as for Kobayashi, he’s a cameraman turned director who collaborated prominently with Satō Makoto (Living on the River Agano, Memories of Agano), unfortunately I haven’t seen his new movie yet, but I’m planning to do it as soon as possible since the movie is now in the Japanese theaters. Asian Vision will also present 2 works from South Korea, A Roar of the Prairie (Oh Min-wook, 2015) and  Welcome to Playhouse (Kim Soo-vin, 2015), a self-documentary about the 23 year-old director whose life changes when she becomes unwantedly pregnant. The movies from mainland China are 3, Shaman’s Journey (Gu Tao, 2016), Enclave  (Li Wei, 2015) and The Road (Zhang Zanbo, 2015), a work filmed for three years in a small town where a section of a new highway is being built, while those from the Philippines are 2, Murmurs from the Somber Depths of Sta. Mesa (Hector Barretto Calma, 2015) and Of Cats, Dogs, Farm Animals and Sashimi (Perry Dizon, 2015). But there are many more documentaries, you can read about all of them in the program – there’s a section devoted exclusively to non-fiction cinema from Taiwan, one on re-enactment and one on significant documentaries shown at international festivals – on the official brochure (here the PDF).
Just a final note on a series of special events and screenings organized by the festival with the Folk Memory Project, an initiative started in 2010 by Wu Wenguang, the so called father of Chinese independent documentary, whose aim is to preserve the oral memories of the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-1961 through documentaries, interviews and theatrical performances. 

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