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Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: tidf
Friday, 29 October 2010 17:28

From the cradle to the cradle

A review of documentary ‘Cradle of Happiness’, directed by Asel Juraeva, Kyrgyzstan, 2010, Digi-Beta, color, 20’

The movie starts in a hospital: white ceiling, white gloves, the sound of a heartbeat reproduced by the echography machine, a robotic sound that will stop as we see a doctor or a nurse take what seems to be surgical instruments of abortion. Then a fade out opens on to a dusty road, two little boys play at the foreground. A close-up lets us guess that they are twins.

This 20 minute movie is about the simple and happy life of these two little boys who basically spend their time playing in the garden, eating, watching TV and sleeping. The scenes are filmed at their eye-level, thus adopting their point of view and making us enter their world where adults are scarcely present: their mother, pregnant, who bathes and dresses them, their grandparents and their father who appears only once as he comes home.

So the space of representation in the movie just varies between the house and the garden in a continuous coming and going (va-et-vient). But another reality pierces through the opening created by the screen of the TV: the uninterrupted broadcast of images of war and violence contrasts with the serene sequences that depict the games and the activities of the family. As the camera lingers on the eyes of the little boys mesmerized by the TV, one of them suddenly lowers his look as though sadness has invaded him. That scene preludes the only fight scene between the twins (inside the house) which is followed by a long shot of the deserted garden where a toy gun remains.

The movie impresses by its scarcity of information: we only know that it takes place in Kyrgyzstan because of this strange sentence which opens the movie both in Russian and English: “Kyrgyzstan is a country of short films!” But we don’t know which village or town or city; also none of the people are named, there isn’t either any time indication. In fact, the movie is almost mute, only punctuated by the chirping of the boys. And this is what precisely gives to the movie its universal meaning and its interest. What we are told here is not the story of a particular family but the story of humanity through its particularism, with a certain Rousseauistic perspective: the innocent happiness of humans in nature disturbed by the corruption of a violent outside world that will maybe see these boys grow old to be soldiers; the opposition between childhood and adult age, the close tangle of life and death.  But the movie is not pessimistic as it finishes on a note of hope with the birth of the twins’ little sister: the circle closes finally on life.

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Tuesday, 02 November 2010 00:00

Documenting his own reality: The films of Kidlat Tahimik

The first film directed by and starring Kidlat Tahimik is Perfumed Nightmare (1977). He is a Phillipines born director who released this film with the help of Francis Ford Coppola. Although his films were shown as part of the documentary film festival in Taizhong at the end of October, they do not follow the style of the conventional documentary, and incorporate what could be called performance art, or a performative rendition of memory, experience and emotion.

The director, in what seem to be fictionalized sequences, traces his memory of setting out from the Phillipines to France and then the US. The director seems to attempt an experiential or sensous recreation of the trip. First setting out from his imagination of the West, a kind of Occidentalist structure with its foundation in Voice of America broadcasts and dealings with American soldiers and later recognizing the error in this imaginary of the West. The film employs a lot of surrealist imagery to fragment the logic of the narrative and the events on screen quite often happen in contradiction to the narrative voice of the film.

The film seemed to be countering the notion that modernization in the guise of progress is a good blueprint for what in the West is referred to as "The Third World". The protagonist who had been eager for progress to occur rescinds his membership from a fan club of an immigrant to America who helped to build the Apollo space shuttle. This signals his realization that the American dream is not the path to happiness. At first he is awed by France but as he grows accustomed to life there, he realizes that technological progress does not endow places or things with the meanings and emotions that places and things are endowed with in his hometown. The faceless encroach of the supermarket on the 4 seasons market confirms for him this absence of meaning that he comes upon in the West. Despite his ever more caustic tone in his films, Tahimik, in his interview with erenlai.com, insists that he is not anti-Western in his sentiments, but rather feels that the contemporary world could benefit from the application of aboriginal values to modern life, the indi-genius way, as he calls it. A theme he goes on to develop in his film Why is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow (1994), suggesting that "old ways" are essentially an untapped resource in terms o_MG_0912f conservation and ecology; what he calls "an inbuilt brake system" Although used in an ironic tone in this later film, he adopts the dichotomy of first and second world on one hand and "the third world" on the other, dividing the world into "indigenous" and "Western" peoples, he seems to buy into this way of categorizing the world, which in essence is a result of a Western ethnocentric psyche. He traces the recent social and political events of the Philippines through the eyes of his son, Kidlat. He seems to be continually harking back to an imagined "non-Westernized" Filippino nation, embodied in his mind, in the Igorot aborigines. This is stressed in another of his films, his 1981 film Turumba, narrated from the perspective of a young boy called Kadu, gives an account of the dehumanizing effects of the European system of mass production on the village where Kadu lives. The local craft of Papier-mâché prepared for a local festival called "Turumba" is distorted and homogenized by a German woman who starts to export the craft works to Germany en masse. What had originally been a family enterprise laden with tradition, becomes a sudo-sweat shop, and the models that had been used before are discarded for the 1971 Munich Olympic Games mascot. Kadu's father who originally had been the Kantore at the festival every year becomes the boss of this enterprise and becomes obsessed with accruing status symbols of wealth, including a TV, a Mercedes Benz, foreign travel. This material wealth is contrasted to Pati, a machete maker, who lives simply but happily without the pressures of trying to prove wealth in material possessions.

 

The theme of both of these films along with Tahimik's debut film, Perfumed Nightmare, talk of a disillusion with the Western "developed world" and a pastoral longing for a simpler life uncomplicated by a imported system of values. These films reminded me somewhat of the short story 蕭蕭 (Xiaoxiao) by 沈從文 (Shen Congwen). The short story, in one interpretation, conveys a longing for life on the margins of civilization, as yet untouched by modernization. The old society's rules and laws although seemingly chauvinistic and oppressive are regulated by the institutions and the men and women within the society. This is represented within the story by the horrible things we hear about how women are treated in the society in which Xiaoxiao lives, but the relatively benign treatment of the protagonist herself, which denies us a feminist reading of the story. This suggests the pre-Western society had already evolved an independent "Chinese Modernism", the potential of which was lost with over-exposure to Western modernism. The film like this short story seem to be praising this cultural wilderness while simultaneously acknowledging its coming destruction. Both the film and the short story question the prizing of the modern above the native, and seem to point to an already void desire to found an alternative Eastern modernism, independent of the perils of what is often called "The American Dream".

 

Some excellent bits of the first film include the Filippino cast "whiting up" in a scene where they act as the white guests at a farewell party that make Kidlat feel small, prompting him to say:

I am Kidlat Tahimik, I'm not as small as you think, nothing can stop me from crossing my bridge.


Another scene, earlier on in the film, is where religious self flagellation is portrayed, and Kidlat goes to pray to the Virgin Mary, who speaks to him in a very crude manner, revealing the snideness of an icon who demands the pain of self-flaggelation. Mary describes Kidlat in the garb of self-flaggelation as "sexy". In his interview he discusses in more detail his relationship with religion, particularly Catholicism. Which he sees not as an enemy but as a circumstance, which has interfered with the cultural brake mechanism in the Philippines.

His apparent view of Western culture is summarized in his first film as follows:
 
 
The white carabao is rare, it is born against nature. The white carabao is beautiful but inside its cold and aggressive. One day, Kidlat, you will understand that the beauty of the white carabao is like the sweetness of the chewing gum the American soldiers gave you.

This seems to me to indicate the illusion created by Eastern imagination of the Occident and the subsequent disillusion that it begets.

A Clip from Perfumed Nightmare


Tuesday, 02 November 2010 00:00

Bad kids: Leaving a message for their future selves

Yau Ching (游靜) is a documentary filmmaker and professor based in Hong Kong. She was present at the Taiwan Documentary Film Festival this year where her film We Are Alive was nominated for the Asian Vision Award. Since it was one of my favourite films at the festival, both stylistically and in mission, I was delighted to interview Yao Ching about her documentary film and her own youth experiences.
 

What were you trying to show about these ‘bad’ kids? Was there a message you were trying to give?

I didn’t really show the kids, to be exact. The kids showed themselves. I basically did a series of workshops in these so-called reform institutes or detention centres in three different places. Hong Kong, Macao and Sapporo, Japan. At the workshops I gave the kids access to a bunch of video cameras, still cameras and audio recorders, for them to express themselves through these media. I gave them some exercises and themes as a means to talk about their feelings and thoughts. Through the exercises they were able to talk about their dreams, their fantasies, to write letters to themselves – their future selves; to talk about their families and most memorable memories. They were able to show a ‘self’ which is normally ignored or dismissed by mainstream media and institutions because they’ve been labeled as bad kids by society. Basically, in these very moralizing environments, these kids have lost quite a lot of their dreams and hopes for the future. I hoped that through these exercises they could regain some of this sense of self-recognition and self-confidence, so they could value their differences with other people and be able to think of themselves as having meaningful lives, not just the life defined by the legal institutions.

Is this why you asked them where they wanted to be 5 years in the future?

Actually that was a question about what kind of video you would write to your future self. I was hoping that through this exercise, they could see themselves as having a kind of continuity in their lives, not just that they were being segregated in this system, and this is the end of your life. Then you restart completely from nothing. This kind of amnesia doesn’t really make people recognize and learn from their past experiences. What I value for my own self growth for example, is how I can make sense of my past experiences as something I can use to improve myself, to grow and expand my vision for the future. Building that continuity through media and video, I was hoping they could think like people who had a future and past and could come to terms with things.

Have you ever been incarcerated?

No. That’s a very good question. I was a very good studious kid in my childhood, but then in my adolescence I was suddenly labeled a very ‘bad’ kid due to my gender and sexuality. This dramatic shift from good kid to bad kid has constructed me very deeply, in that I was forced to rethink some of the assumptions behind these constructions and labels. So, this project was also a way for me to rethink some of these values, such as what it means to be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ kid in society.

Are there ways you think the penitentiary system in Asia can be improved on and how would you go about it?

From my limited experience, dealing with some institutions in limited places, I think that the whole youth reform system has to reconsider what education for youth is, rather than simply shutting them off from society or incarcerating and isolating them – even in terms of information flow, so that they are denied access to mainstream society and so that mainstream society doesn’t have to see them; as if this would make society much more safe and civilized. We have to actually rethink our priorities so that society can help these kids grow up and be useful for society and we could even learn a lot from them. There is a lot to be learnt by society about diversity in East Asia. A lot of the youth problems that we are facing these days, could be coming from the inability of adults to cope with diversity.  Our children have been growing up very fast with a lot of access to different kinds of information; thus they grew up being a lot more diverse than we were in the old days. So we adults have to learn to look at some of these, to register, to consult and to learn from these kids. Not just to erase them.

Do you think that any of the kids got some useful inspiration by the documentary process?

It wasn’t really a documentary by me, but a collaborative process between me and the workshop participants. Thus, from the exercises they did themselves and with me, you can see that they have grown over the course of the workshop. I have learnt a lot from them. I think that they have learnt a lot too, not necessarily from me, but more from their own process of making the works, of having that freedom, however temporary it was, to tell these stories about themselves. I always think that telling your own stories to someone else is therapeutic. You can see through the workshop how every time they recount the story it is a little different. So, just through that process of telling, they are already learning.

 

 


Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

Trust me, I'm a DOCtor

The Artisanship of Documentary

This year TIDF ran the DOCumentary DOCtor Workshop in view of its responsibility to improve the quality and spread of Taiwanese documentary film. With four European and Asian ‘DOCtors’ present, DOCDOC gave the opportunity to aspiring Taiwanese filmmakers to have their projects assessed and DOCtored by experts.

Finnish DOCtor Janne Niskala, began by praising all the film projects present for having very specific subjects. He said that people often make the mistake of thinking you must have general issues to make a good film: “In fact the smaller the subject, the better the film.” He was impressed that in observational tragicomic Say Sing (說唱), the director/cameraman had forged a really intimate relationship with his subjects, a Hip-hop band who sang in a local Yunnan dialect. While far from complete, it had a universal musical dream and great potential.

Korean Min Chul-kim, mentioned that there was still room for improvement on the lack of producer culture and knowledge. Nowadays an understanding of production is crucial if a film wants to reach a global market and one may need to exceed pure activism or journalistic reportage and include a degree of cinematic creation. As such, he praised the commercial TV potential of A Tunafish Eye (滿載).

Jean Perret feels that filmmaking needs to be “maintained as a handcraft” and requires artisanship “to reveal in every detail”. He talked of the film of a wagon in Siberia, 8 minutes of a wagon moving through the snow.Too many Taiwanese and Chinese documentaries he saw covered “important” or “moving” subjects but were in no way made as a film. There was a need for hybridization between documentary and creative cinema. Also, he felt there was not enough respect for global audiences, with subtitles that are translated, but not considered an art in their own right.

 

All the DOCtors agreed that filmmaking required meticulous detail in all areas from the first frame to the production and distribution and were thus impressed with these young directors for partaking in the competition where they could refine their skills and breathe new life into their documentaries.

docs

 


Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

Journey to the end of craziness

A review of documentary ‘Crazy’ directed by Heddy Honigmann, Netherlands, 1999, Digi-Beta, color, 97’

Crazy is a documentary on memory and on the way one deals with the memory of traumatic experiences. In her movie, Heddy Honigmann interviews a series of Dutch soldiers who have all experience in a war context as members of the UN forces/army. The movie is remarkable for its use of documents such as photo scrapbooks, news footage and personal films, letters and postcards… The interviewees are most of the time comfortably sitting in their living room, or in a restaurant. Sometimes they are accompanied by their spouse or companion as they recount their experience of wars in various parts of the world such as Lebanon, Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

Thus the contrast is even stronger between the violence and horror of their stories and the environment and items that surround them now: a cozy and bright room, a park, an expensive bottle of wine… What Honigmann succeeds in capturing is precisely the moment of the recollection, this indescribable moment when a painful or traumatic memory mightily comes back, bringing to the present a past that one might have shut off.

crazy_3So there are two kinds of memory: a voluntary one and an uncontrolled one. The first one comes from the effort of remembering, it also rebuilds a story, gives an order and a signification to events. It is also the one that overcomes in a certain way the absurdities and the horrors of the war by choosing carefully what one wants or can remember. For instance, a soldier evokes the refugee camps in Rwanda: when asked if it was terrible to see, he just replies that one gets used to it; he’s then asked how quickly he got used to it, very fast, he says, as for the horror scenes he could have witnessed, he just brushed them aside, using what he calls the “blinders’ technique”. In his role as a strong and efficient soldier, he denies having showed any weak feeling during his mission, for him, it is a matter of survival.

crazy_4On the other hand, Honigmann also invokes another kind of memory aroused by music in her movie. Each soldier is asked to introduce a song linked to their experience of war time. From the Stabat Mater by Pergolesito Guns n' Roses' "Knocking on Heaven's Door", the soldiers all used a song of their own to find a bit of peace and comfort in a context of violence and dehumanization. So the camera just films them as they are sitting on their home sofa listening to these songs that carry such a heavy recollection. They stop talking but their silence is even more eloquent than all the stories they just told, eyes begin to float, sweat beads on their foreheads, hands are twisted together as if supplicating under the torture… And in fact, the special signification that these different songs carry for all the protagonists reveal precisely the banality of horror and the way craziness arises from the trivial.

This importance of music and its power of reminiscence have been evoked before in French novelist Celine’s “Journey to the End of Night” (Voyage au bout de la nuit). The novel also describes the absurdities of war and its impact on the mind as the story starts with the narrator enrolling for First World War after following the gay music played by a brass band! In fact Celine’s book is punctuated by music: the author himself named his writing “the little music”; describing the decay of age as the moment when “one has no more music inside to make life dance.” In another quote, the narrator says: “In fact, nobody resists to music. We have nothing to do with our heart, we give it gladly. Y’have to hear at the bottom of all music the tune without notes, made for us, the tune of Death.”


Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

Festival Awards TIDF 2010

On 30th October 2010 the results of the awards for the Taiwan International Documentary Festival were released. The awards were divided into International Feature Length Competition, International Short Film Competition, Asia Vision Award and the Taiwan award. The jurors had been carefully watching the nominated films which had originally been selected from 1527 submissions received in 2010, to reduce them to the final 12 prize winners. The films were shown on the last day of the festival and will be shown at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival in November. The results for the 2010, 7th Taiwan International Documentary Festival Award Winnerare as follows:

International Feature Length Competition

Award

Title

Director

Grand Prize

In The Garden of Sounds

Switzerland

Nicola Bellucci

Merit Prize

Let the Wind Carry Me

Taiwan

Chiang Hsiu-chiung, Kwan Pun-leung

Merit Prize

War Don Don

Sierra Leone

Rebecca Richman Cohen

Jury’s Special Mention

The Woman with the 5 Elephants

Germany, Switzerland

Vadim Jendreyko

International Short Film Competition

Award

Title

Director

Grand Prize

Countryside 35x45

Russia

Evgeny Solomin

Merit Prize

Divine Pig

Netherlands

Hans Dortmans

Merit Prize

In Case of Loss of Pressure

Belgium

Sarah Moon Howe

 


Asia Vision Award

Award

Title

Director

Grand Prize

Passion

Mongolia

Byamba Sakhya

Merit Prize

Amin

Canada, Iran, South Korea

Shahin Parhami

Jury’s Special Mention

Iron Crows

South Korea

Bong-namPark

Taiwan Award

Award

Title

Director

Grand Prize

Hand in Hand (牽阮的手)

Yen Lan-chuan, Juang Yi-tzeng (顏蘭權、莊益增)

Special Jury Prize

Nimbus (帶水雲)

A-yao Huang (黃信堯)

Jury’s Special Mention

Avoiding Vision (是你嗎?)

Chen Yuan-chen (陳婉真)

Audience Choice Award

Award

Title

Director

Audience Choice International Award

 

I Shot My Love

Germany, Israel

Tomer Heymann

Audience Choice Taiwan Award

Let the Wind Carry Me

(乘著光影旅行)

Chiang Hsiu-chiung, Kwan Pun-leung

(姜秀瓊、關本良)

 

A fantastically immersive sensory experience and one which resonates long after it is viewed by the audience was Nicola Bellucci’s In The Garden of Sounds which won the Grand Prize for the International Feature Length Competition. This film sets itself apart from regular narrative treatments because we are allowed to enter the sensory world of both the main character and those children whom he transforms. The Merit Prize went to Taiwan’s Let the Wind Carry Me which opens up to be an inner portrait of an artist as a human being. The film displays great cinematic qualities and it seamlessly weaves itself into the life and work of one of the world’s great poetic cinematographers, Mark Lee. Director Chiang Hsiu-chiung especially brought her son up on stage when receiving the Merit Prize. Rebecca Richman Cohen’s War Don Don received the other Merit Prize for a film about a war crimes case following Sierra Leone’s civil war which displays the human tendency to judge and be self righteous with our media biased knowledge. Finally A Woman and 5 Elephants was given a jury’s special mention.

Evgeny Solomin who won the International Short Film Competition Grand Prize in 2002 for his film Katorga, won the award again this year with his film Countryside 35x45, full of unforgettable images captured in black and white. Heddy Honigman said of Countryside 35X45 that “the stories are as touching as the images we see”. The first of the two Merit Prizes was handed to Divine Pig, in which Hans Dortmans gives you all the beef (or should I say bacon?) regarding the irony of life choices, as he follows a butcher and his favourite pig…all the way to the slaughtering house. The other Merit Prize went to In Case of Loss of Pressure, where a Sarah Moon Howe who was close to breaking down, took up the camera, and filmed the struggles of her previous life as a stripper with a young boy suffering from symptomatic epilepsy. The film is a sincere response to real life difficulties.

The Grand Prize for the Asian Vision Award went to Byamba Sakhya’s Passion, an honest, touching and open film in which Sakhya gives us his vision of the present state of Mongolian cinema and its inheritance from the past. Shahin Parhami’s Amin won a Merit Prize for this film about lost origins, skilfully combining individual loneliness with the whole nation’s love of music, as it follows the fate of a dying music. Finally, director Bong-nam Park, who was one of the three foreign guests running the DOCumentary DOCtor workshop this year, received the Jury’s Special Mention for Iron Crows, whose lens displayed a silhouette of Asia in the globalizing world. Its close up observation of workers in a Bangladeshi ship destruction yard reveals the absurdity and ruthlessness of human civilization. These pieces were all charming and touching pieces of Asian cinema.

Yen Lan-chuan and Juang Yi-tseng previously won the Taiwan Award Grand Prize for their film The Last Rice Farmer (無米樂). They won it again this year with Hand in Hand (牽阮的手). Juror Wu Wenguang, an important Chinese documentarist said that this film told a moving, sad love story which was full of drama and emotional inspiration before bringing the audience to life with his clinical sense of humour. The Special Jury Award went toA-yao Huang’s Nimbus, which uses beautiful cinematography to show us the history of a Taiwanese landscape in transition. Chen Yuan-chen’s Avoiding Vision was given the Jury’s special mention.

Last but not least, in the Audience Choice Awards I Shot My Mother won the international prize and Let the Wind Carry Me the audience prize.

Article originally written with Shinie Wang for the Taiwan International Documentary Festival


Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

The crazy thoughts of silent lightning

An interview with Kidlat Tahimik, a movie director, writer and actor born in 1942 in the Philippines.
 
 
Is referring to your work as “documentary film” justified?
Tahimik: For a long time I never really thought of genres. I did my first film Perfumed Nightmare and then my second and third. Then in 1989, suddenly, I was invited by the Yamagata documentary festival to show a certain film I’d made, and I said “You mean I’m a documentary maker? But my films are not like the BBC!" I always thought that that was the mould for documentary. Over time the documentary has relaxed what its outer shape and inner shape is supposed to be. So I guess I am a documentary maker, documenting my crazy thoughts.

What do you think is the most common misconception of your work?

Tahimik: My works are very open ended, so I don’t know. I think for a close-ended world that’s where most misconceptions will occur. I like it if there are 200 spectators and 201 interpretations.
 
Tahimik Junior: I think one of the things is that they sometimes perceive my father’s work as anti-western and I think it’s not so much anti-western as pro-indigenous. The other side.
 
Tahimik: Our side. Like for example my mother watched my first film and asked me “Why did you make such an anti-American film?". And then I said to her, “Ma, it’s not anti-American, it’s more oriented towards finding our own inner strengths. We have been subdued by American education, maybe in a certain sense we’d never been aware that we were overly Westernized because of our Western curriculum, and because Hollywood’s curriculum. American idol has been in our country long before American Idol became a TV program.
 
 
In your film Turumba, you make reference to the nativization of Western religions. What do you think of the massive influence that the church plays in the Philippines today?
 
 
Tahimik: I look at Catholicism as a circumstance rather than an enemy. I have a feeling that it has contributed a lot, although its ideals, like many great religions are quite lofty and worthy. But because it doesn’t really belong to our people, it tends to be interpreted at our convenience. So when you read about all the corruption in the Philippines, I think it is linked to the Catholic idea that you can live a completely sinful life, and at the moment of your death you have an act of attrition and you just go to heaven. So Marcos is in heaven. So it may have interfered with our cultural brake mechanism. Maybe that’s why there is a seeming anarchy in our country.
 
 
Do you think that the term “The Third World” has transformed in meaning in recent years or been reclaimed?

Tahimik: I didn’t really understand that it was a dichotomy, as opposed to the first and second world. I guess it’s mainly economic nomenclature. An indigenous chieftain in one of my films. He always mispronounced the word “indigenous” saying "We indi-genius peoples have been trampled upon, our indi-genius culture is looked down upon”. And I said “Wow! It’s a really cosmic mispronunciation.” to combine the “genius” with the indigenous culture. I think that third world juices can be harnessed for economic development. There is a lot of indigenous wisdom that can balance this world which has lost its brakes.
 
Listen to the interview here:   
 
 
For a review of three of Kidlat Tahimik's films see Conor's article: Documenting his own reality: The films of Kidlat Tahimik
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

Kidlat Cafe

Kidlat de Guia's father, Kidlat Tahimik (Eric de Guia) is one of the most prized Third (World) Cinema filmmakers and artists in the Phillipines. Kidlat initially tried to avoid the cliché of following in his father's footsteps - but alas Kidlat could not shake off his love of film and finally he is now making documentary, most recently for the United Nations. At TIDF 2010, I had a quick chat with him about festival bars, Taiwan, and asked him words of advice for aspiring documentarists.

 


Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

Cinéma du Réel by Jean Perret

To show its commitment to documentary film, Taiwan allowed the necessary conditions for an exchange of knowledge from the best documentarists around the world. One particularly fruitful scheme was the DOCumentary DOCtor project, which invited young Taiwanese directors to present their projects and be given tips and advice by the experts. Alongside Janne Niskala and Min-chul Kim, Jean Perret completed the panel of experts. Jean Perret founded the Swiss documentary festival Visions du Réel in Switzerland and he is now the director of the Cinema Department of the Art Institute at the Geneva University of Arts and Design.

When Ida and Nick caught up with Jean in the VIP suite, he was delighted to tell us more of his missions in the documentary, against the flux audiovisuel (audiovisual flow) andthe inebriation of information.

Photo: Liu Lu-chen

 


Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

The cinematic experience

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Media Art Centre and Doc EX!T

One area in which Taiwan competes with the best is with its powerful technology. Combining this with the aesthetic expertise, equipment and inspiration provided simply by being on site at the most prestigious Art institution in Taiwan, you could only expect a powerful, full cinematic experience - and we weren't disapointed, in fact we were taken on a journey to complete sensory inebriation by the array of lighting, experimenting and the aesthetics of the art director He Si-ying. Firstly MOFA provided a brand new space for experimental visual arts (Media Art Center) which was used this year for all the Doc EX!t experimental visual art/film performances. Put together by foreign and Taiwanese artists with so much experimentation, light and power that even the room sometimes failed to keep up with the power involved in this spectral abuse.

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Starlight Screening

As the night sky began to fall over the "festival" we were met with a breathtaking performance from A Moving Sound, their ethnic drums, lute, erhu and guitar combined with hallucinatory swirly movements sending the audience into a hazy, but comfortable trance. “Let memory be released!” And hundreds of balloons were sent screaming into the sky as the organizers and special guests each took an end of the red ribbon pulled and then proceeded to tear apart the bag that had been imprisoning these balloons. And with that the films could begin to free the fragments of memories that had been closed off to expression …

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Tuesday, 30 November 2010 00:00

"I judge a festival by the quality of its volunteers"

Peter Wintonick is an independent documentary filmmaker and a self-professed expert of documentary festivals - he spends the whole year attending them. He is one of the founders of DocAgora, an international documentary think tank and currently runs Necessary Illusions Productions. This makes it all the more heartening that while presenting the award for the best feature length documentary film, he proclaimed: "I judge a festival by the quality of it's volunteers and by that measure, this festival has been absolutely outstanding."

Volunteering is not only socially valuable also gives youths the chance to experience different walks of life or to hone their skills in their fields of interest. Furthermore, it allows them to meet and learn to deal with different types of people and situations, nurturing well-rounded persons. Here are some photos, videos and afterthoughts of volunteers at the 2010 Taiwan International Documentary Festival:

Volunteers from different places, backgrounds and ages all came together to overcome any problems. We all came to the same place, for the same event, with the same idea. It’s really moving to seeFly Fat Boy

 

volunteers_1

Peter's comments, the hard work and the and the positive effects, both on the volunteers and more generally on society that I witnessed at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival were inspiring, and thus eRenlai and the Taipei Ricci Institute (TRI) have decided to launch a new volunteering scheme. The plethora of different events, awards conferences, publications and works that our organisation churns out annually means that there are always plenty of exciting opportunities to learn some skills in the most dynamic, prestigious and creatively stimulating of organizations. We work in publishing, new media, writing, journalism, camera and soundwork, video editing, documentary film production, event organisation, academic conferences, environmental or sustainability work and the arts... Working with eRenlai and TRI you are given proximity to the top academics, feature journalists and event organisers, eRenlai even has its own in-house art directors. If you are interested in participating in eRenlai's volunteering scheme. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Telling us a bit about yourself, why you want to volunteer and what you are interested in doing.

My first experience volunteering was very special and I met many independent film directors, even if I could only glance at them passing by. I learned new things and there was free lunch. Two birds with one stoneRice

 

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Study hard, play hard!!! ~亭汝

I’m so happy to have been a volunteer and to have met so many people. It expanded my horizons. Great festival by TIDF!!Orange

This is my second time as a TIDF volunteer. I like documentaries because they are different to normal commercial films. I’m willing to volunteer, and I’ll be a volunteer for lifeAnn Chen

I helped many people and many helped me. I hope I’m given this opportunity againKai

3 short days spent watching numerous documentaries with Markus Nornes, and hearing his profound analysis of Asian film, allowed me to see documentary from a different perspective ~ 蘇何

The way these documentaries have touched me, will stay with me throughout my life 國惠

 

 


 


Sunday, 31 October 2010 00:00

Transcending conventional reality: An interview with CCD Workstation’s Wu Wenguang

At the 2010 Taiwan International Documentary Festival, CCD Workstation, an artist space in Beijing had their own very own program. Wu Wenguang who founded the workstation was invited over to the festival as a special guest to give his judgements on the Taiwan award. In between his arrival and his humorous conducting of the audience at the awards ceremony Nick and Shinie Wang caught up with him to find out a little more about The Villager Documentary Project.

 

Nick Coulson: How did The Villager Documentary Project come about? 

Wu: It came completely by chance in 2005, when I was wondering how the villagers would use a DV camera if given the opportunity. Would they be able to make the documentary they wanted? Ten villagers came up to Beijing and after basic training; they all made a short film related to village self-governance. After this plan finished, those willing to carry on, did so. Ten became four. The films My Village 2006 and My Village 2007 were completed, without restrictions; what they wanted to film, they filmed.

 

N.C.: Were the villagers able to ‘bare their stuff’ and bare their past memories through this project? Was there any discrepancy between your initial aims and the final outcome? 

Wu: Initially, the title of the film Bare Your Stuff, was questioning whether we are able to release ourselves, to honestly confront and get rid of our doubts, to trust each other. The big problem over the past five years is that none of us trusted each other. These trivial matters made it very difficult to work together, as that requires revealing yourself, understanding and respecting others. I discovered that the problem wasn’t whether or not they could film. The facts have already proven they can film and very well. China doesn’t lack people who can make documentaries. Villagers filming documentary is more about civil consciousness.

 

Shinie Wang: You have been filming since the late 80s, have your creative or technical ideas changed since then? Your latest film Treating, documents the life of your recently deceased mother, does this indicate a change style?

Wu: The biggest change is in method. Towards the end of the 90s I changed from large professional equipment to a small DV camera. I adopted an image diary style: no topic, no materials, no plan, no budget. I just filmed what happened to be there and then edited it. For example, Bare Your Stuff was about the behind the scenes process of the Villager Documentary Project. Then, in Treating I edited over 10 years of collected images as a form self-treatment. Next I want to make a film about my father, through history and memory, a film that will deal once and for all with the relationship between my father and this family - this is also self-treatment. I won’t film societal documentaries again. I’m bigger than the Palace Museum, there are many things inside myself that I don’t understand. How can I understand others if I don’t understand myself?

 

S.W.: What documentaries are you most interested in? What are the ingredients of a good documentary?

Wu: I have different hobbies at different times. I like all sorts of documentary, but recently I prefer personal images more than recording workers, the repressed and the suffering, which used to fascinate me. How can these personal images transcend of the normal? Documentaries should not merely show the truth, but they should be able to show through things, like X-ray vision.

Zhou Xueping’s The Starving Village records the last two years of her grandmother’s life including several other old villagers; they talk about the famine fifty years back. It’s very subjective, she wanted the village she knows, not the reality of the village, yet it all comes from reality. While it leaves objectivity slightly, she creates the reality that she knows, that of a ‘starving village’, one that is dying, a ruin. This is transcending conventional reality. This is “the creation of reality”.

 


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