Screenings include Tsai Ming-Liang's cutting-edge VR film The Deserted and the martial arts classic Dragon Inn
From Wed 3–Thu 14 April, the Taiwan Film Festival will be bringing tales from another distant island to the shores of the UK. With screenings at iconic venues across London, including the Curzon Soho and the Tate Modern's Starr Cinema, the festival's programme will highlight issues that are both specific to contemporary Taiwanese society as well as the world at large, including the environment, LGBTQ+ and indigenous rights, ethnic identity and more.
As the only Mandarin-speaking nation that enshrines the right to freedom of speech for its citizens, the Taiwan Film Festival seeks to tell stories from its corner of the world that others cannot. Moreover, the festival boasts a complete gender parity in its programme, with women directing half of the films being screened.
One particular highlight of the festival is a retrospective on the career of Tsai Ming-Liang, a master of slow cinema. Opening this stream of the programme is the UK premiere of his 2017 feature-length virtual reality film The Deserted, which follows a man living in a dilapidated house in the mountains, with only two ghosts and a fish in a bathtub for company. The Deserted will be shown in a pop-up theatre designed in collaboration with architect Rain Wu. The screening will be in 8K resolution using groundbreaking VR technology presented by HTV VIVE, creating a truly immersive cinema experience.
Opening the festival will be the classic martial arts western Dragon Inn, considered one of the greatest examples of cinematic swordplay. In a nod to its influence upon the genre and Taiwanese cinema to this day, the festival will also be screening Tsai's 2003 film Goodbye Dragon Inn, set in a haunted Taipei theatre on the eve of its closure.
Also being screened will be the horror series The Tag Along and The Tag Along 2, followed by a Q&A with writer Chien Shih-Keng, as well as Yang Li-Chou's documentary film Father, which depicts the dying art of Taiwanese traditional puppetry over a ten-year period.
The festival closing gala will feature a selection of short documentary films about Taiwanese indigenous activists and the complex nature of the Taiwanese identity, accompanied by live music from indigenous musicians Panai Kusui and Ado' Kaliting Pacidal.
Before arriving in London, the Taiwan Film Festival will first be screened in Iceland. 'Bringing the Taiwan Film Festival to the UK and Iceland was an obvious ﬁt because of the strong roots of storytelling and independent ﬁlmmaking on each of these islands,' says festival curator Aephie Chen.
'Art Cinema is thrilled to work with Taiwan Film Festival and help stage the UK premiere of The Deserted,' says Art Cinema founder Myriam Blundell Phillips. 'This installation aims to bring the most thrilling experience to an array of audiences ranging from film d'auteurs lovers all the way to the most savvy explorers of virtual reality realms. Such encounters establish what 21th century paradigms of art display and engagement are all about.'
Taiwan Film Festival, various venues across London, Wed 3–Thu 14 April, filmtaiwan.org