Taiwan Film Festival UK returns to London

Taiwan Film Festival UK returns to London

Path of Destiny

The festival has partnered with Rio Cinema to offer a mix of online and socially distanced screenings of social and environmental documentaries

Taiwan Film Festival UK returns to our shores at the latter end of this month, showcasing six feature-length documentaries created on the island nation that delve into some of the most pressing issues facing the wider world today. From Sat 28 Nov to Sat 12 Dec, the festival has partnered with Dalston-based Rio Cinema to platform a blend of online and socially distanced screenings, which – under the theme 'Wounded but Healed' – will tackle everything from freedom of speech and labour rights to the climate crisis.

The festival opens with a screening of The Price of Democracy and Path of Destiny, both of which will be available to view on Rio Player from Sat 28 Nov to Sat 5 Dec. Path of Destiny centres upon Taiwanese indigenous shaman, Panay Mulu, who has devoted herself to recording the indigenous rituals of the Amis tribe before they disappear, while The Price of Democracy follows young filmmaker Liao Jian-Hua as he charts Taiwan's tumultuous 40-year-long journey to full democracy through the lives of two now-elder grassroots activists.

Democracy and freedom of speech are vital thematic strands that run throughout the festival, and there are a host of talks and workshops that build upon this important issue, such as a pre-recorded interview with the director of The Price of Democracy. The festival will also be hosting a rare interview with Lam Wing-Kee (Tue 1 Dec), the Hong Kong bookseller who was abducted by authorities for selling political writings, eventually being forced to flee to Taiwan, as well as Tsai Kun-Lin (Sat 12 Dec), who was a political prisoner during Taiwan's White Terror era.

The other side of Taiwan Film Festival UK features documentaries that tackle the climate emergency, and the impact human consumption is having upon the natural world. Highlights include the UK premiere of Ke Chin-Yuan's documentary Ocean (Sat 5 Dec) at the Rio, which highlights the crisis faced by the magnificent creatures of the Pacific Ocean, alongside a line-up of spoken word and live musical performances. Following the screening of Ocean, the festival will be hosting a book club discussion centred around The Man With the Compound Eyes (Sun 6 Dec), Wu Ming-Ti's novel about what happens after the end of the world, and what it is that connects humanity and the environment.

Subsequent environmental documentaries include a screening of The Age of Awakening (Sun 6 Dec), which charts growing environmental awareness across decades of Taiwanese history, followed by Formosan Black Bear is Coming (Thu 10–Sat 12 Dec), which documents a researcher's attempts to protect Taiwan's black bear population from extinction. The festival then closes on Sat 12 Dec with a screening of Boiling Water Lama, about a religious figure who has attracted countless followers looking for answers to life's most difficult questions, before finishing with a wrap party featuring an as-of-yet undisclosed special guest.

'We've worked hard to connect with – and support – artists, filmmakers, musicians, poets and activists to curate the content for this year's festival,' said Taiwan Film Festival UK's director and curator, Aephie Chen. 'The historic, independent Rio Cinema is the perfect partner for our exploration of culture, history, environment and politics through the human lens of Taiwanese experiences.

'Like so many events this year, the Taiwan Film Festival UK has been interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis and we are thankful to Rio Cinema for hosting this second chapter of our festival. Safety is of paramount importance to all of us, so we are working closely with the Rio Cinema to provide a safe and enlightening cultural experience for all our supporters.'

Details may change due to ongoing lockdown restrictions across the UK. For more information, please visit filmtaiwan.org.