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Arts and Entertainment

UCLA Hosts A Must-See Showcase Of Taiwanese Cinema

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As a country whose political situation has always remained in flux and uncertain, the cinema of Taiwan reflects this unease. Starting tomorrow evening with a screening of the four-and-a-half hour epic Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale, the UCLA Film & Television Archive starts a month-long program showcasing Taiwanese films that portray Taiwan and Taiwanese culture as full of constant transition, movement, and churning.

From the Japanese occupation at the beginning of the 20th century up through liberation after WWII, the fall of the Chinese Mainland to Mao and the Communists in 1949, and the transition to democracy in the 80s, Taiwan has never had a chance to sit still. Today it remains unrecognized by most of the world as a sovereign nation and is still claimed by the Mainland government.

"We're interested in how different people have met around these themes," says Shannon Kelley, head of public programs for the Archive. Kelley, along with co-curator UCLA professor Robert Chi, put together What Time Is It There? Taiwan As Crossroads as a cinematic snapshot of a country that had, "a feeling of things being thrown up in the air."

Outside of international festival successes in the 80s and early 90s and the international success of Ang Lee, Taiwan's cinema still remains relatively marginalized on the world stage. Due to the local specificity of the narratives and the lack of substantial infrastructure, Taiwan's movie industry has yet to truly ascend towards being a titan of the East Asian popular culture. Despite the specificity of these stories, or perhaps because of their smaller scale, the films that make up What Time Is It There? should still appeal to viewers of any background at a humanist level.

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Some of the highlights of What Time Is It There? include:

  • A screening tomorrow night of the unabridged version of Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale, never before shown in Los Angeles in its entirety. The four-and-a-half hour film concerns the titular Seediq, one of the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan, and their 1930 uprising against Japanese rule. If sitting through the entirety of the film is too much for a Saturday night, your ticket is good for a screening of the second part the following Saturday.
  • Rarely shown are Taiwanese films before 1980, so the February 23rd double-feature of Our Neighbors (1963) and Home Sweet Home (1970) is a must-see. The movies have been digitally restored by the Chinese Taipei Film Archive.
  • In person on February 28th is Taiwanese-American filmmaker Arvin Chen showcasing his films Au Revoir Taipei and his most recent Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, the latter of which explores a gay man's coming out late in life. Despite being born in the States and earning his MFA in film production at USC, Chen is now based out of Taiwan.
  • Also making its premiere in Los Angeles as part of What Time Is It There? is Tsai Ming-liang's Stray Dogs, screening on March 16th. Originally announced as arthouse favorite Tsai's last film (he already has a new work at the Berlin International Film Festival at the moment), the director's film became a smash hit among the critical crowd when it premiered at last year's Venice Film Festival.

Here's the trailer for Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale:

What Time Is It There? Taiwan As Crossroads starts tomorrow night at the Billy Wilder Theater in the Hammer Museum (Westwood). The program runs through to March 19th.

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