HONG KONG – Following a strong showing at the Berlin International Film Festival and Ang Lee’s best director Oscar win for Life of Pi, Taiwan’s aspirations of becoming an international filmmaking force have been bolstered. And now its main film commission has unveiled a collaborative project with the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar at Cannes International Film Festival.
Officially launched in Taipei on Tuesday, Taipei Factory will see four of the island’s budding filmmakers partnering with foreign counterparts to make four 15-minute shorts. The collection will then be shown as the opening film for the Fortnight at Cannes on May 16.
The pairings will include Chang Jung-chi (Touch of the Light, which was screened at the Berlinale two weeks ago) and Iran’s Alireza Khatami (the shorts Elephant in the Street and When the Curtain Falls); Shen Ko-shang (Juliets) and Chile’s Luis Cifuentes (the short Cité); Midi Zhao (Return to Burma, Poor Folk) and France’s actress-turned-director Joana Preiss (Siberie); and Singing Chen (God Man Dog) with South Korea’s Jero Yun (In the Dark). Production has already begun and the filmmakers are set to finish shooting in Taipei on March 15.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Taipei mayor Hau Long-bin said the project is the first collaboration between a Taiwanese official film body with an international film festival, and the endeavor will “let the world see Taiwan and Taipei.” He also referenced Life of Pi, which was partly shot in a zoo in the city, as well as in a specially constructed wave pool in the municipality of Taichung.
The Fortnight’s artistic director, Edouard Waintrop, who flew in from Paris to attend the launch, said Taipei Factory is the result of his sidebar’s reflection on how to facilitate interaction between filmmakers from around the world.
Taiwanese filmmakers have had a very strong international presence during the past month, with the island offering three entries at the Berlinale (Arvin Chen’s Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Hsu Chao-jen’s Together and Chang Jung-chi’s Touch of the Light) and then being namechecked in Lee’s acceptance speech on Sunday night when the Taiwanese-born director was on stage to receive the Best Director prize.
Such highs contrasted sharply with the doldrums the island’s film industry found itself in during the late 1990s and early 2000s, before the emergence of a new generation of filmmakers kickstarted a renaissance for Taiwanese cinema. After breaking local box-office records with Cape No. 7, Wei Te-sheng’s Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale premiered in competition at Venice in 2011, while writer-turned-filmmaker Giddens Ko’s adaptation of his own novel, You Are the Apple Of My Eye has been a commercial success in Chinese-speaking markets, with the film standing as the highest-grossing Chinese film ever to be released in Hong Kong.