Eight Taiwanese films and two Thai films will be screened at the 2018 Taiwan Film Festival in Bangkok, which will take place from 17-23 January 2018 at Quartier CineArt, the EmQuartier in Bangkok. The festival is the annual presentation of Taiwan cinema held by The Ministry of Culture (Taiwan) and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand to promote Taiwan films.
The films to be presented include the opening film “Hang in There, Kids!” directed by Laha Mebow, the first female director of Taiwan aborigines. Its story is about three ethnic kids who grew up in the mountains and the forest. They are troubled by their own family but they are all optimistic and energetic. One day, they discover their handicapped teacher’s wonderful voice from musical audition tape and decided to bring the tape to the capital Taipei. The film was selected as the Taiwan entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.
Other films include “A Fish out of Water” directed by first-time feature film director Lai Kuo-An who has previously worked as music-video and TV commercial director. The film depicts the story of a squabbling couple, the wife’s ailing father-in-law who cannot help himself, the couple’s only son who insists their parents to help find his parents in his past life. The film made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“Godspeed“ a black comedy heist film directed by Chung Mong-Hon and starring Michael Hui, a Hong Kong actor, a comedian Lin Yu-Chih and Thai actor Vithaya Pansringarm. The film describes the life of a jobless punk who often engages in stealing. Since he decided to find a stable job he accidently becomes a drug trafficker. One day, while transporting expensive heroin, he and a taxi driver dragged into conflict between gangsters.
“Missing Johnny” directed by female first-time feature film director Huang Xi who previously worked with veteran director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. It’s a humorous story of three individuals that include a young woman who raises parrots and keep getting wrong phone call. A young man who struggles with the constant breakdowns of his car and the autistic teenager who tries to free himself from his protective mother. The lives of them are drawn together when the young woman’s parrot goes missing.
A documentary film “Ode to Time” directed by Hou Chi-Jan who is well known for his works such as “One Day” and “When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep”. “Ode to time” mentions a group of veteran musicians who gather together again after four decades. The songs they wrote and sang about the complicated relations between Taiwan and China in 70s when they were young, the influence of USA over Taiwan and the spirit of the island’s soul had once changed musical culture in Taiwan. It is interesting to see whether the innocent songs in the old days can still be related to the new era. The film made its debut at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
“White Ant” directed by Chu Hsien-Che, who worked in documentary film arena for more than 20 years. The film depicts a story of a man who has an uncontrollable fetish for women’s underwear. One day, he receives a video recording of himself caught in the act of stealing female lingerie that leads his life into tragic consequences. The film earns positive praise as a strong exploration of the dark side of the human mind. It was selected to the film programme at Busan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei International Film Festivals.
“The Laundryman” directed by first-time feature film director Li Zhong. Stars Chang Hsiao-chuan (Joseph Chang), well known for his role in “Girlfriend Boyfriend” and “Eternal Summer”, Sonia Sui and Wan Qian. The comedy film portrays a contract killer who is haunted by the ghosts of his victims. His beautiful boss who open a laundry then suggests him to seek help from a psychic. However, the psychic finally realizes that the laundry hides secrets more than she bargains for.
A gorgeous restoration film “A Brighter Summer Day” the 1991 classic film by Edward Yang will also be screened at the festival. The four-hour-film was inspired by the director’s true experience when he was young. It was the story of Taiwanese teenagers in early 60s when crimes rocked the nation. Two youth groups fought against each other after a 14-year-old boy’s girlfriend has conflicts with the head of one gang for an unclear reason. The conflict finally came to a violent. The film is praised one of the masterpieces of Taiwan cinema.
Besides Taiwan films, there are two Thai films at the festival. “Phantom of Illumination” is a documentary film by Wattanapume Laisuwanchai that depicts the decline of standalone cinemas in Thailand, which causes film projectionist losing their jobs. The film got Special Mention Award at Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival in Denmark and was selected to be screened at Salaya International Documentary Film Festival, Singapore International Film Festival, and Taipei International Film Festival.
Last but not least is the 1984 classic Thai film “The Story of Nampu” directed by Euthana Mukdasanit, stars Amphol Lumpoon and Wasamon Watharodom. A young man Nampu from a broken family searches for meaning in his life but he chooses the wrong path. When his mother realizes, he is deeply addicted to drugs and that causes the end of his life. The film was selected as the Thai entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 57th Academy Awards.
The 2018 Taiwan Film Festival in Bangkok will be held from 17-23 January 2018 at Quartier CineArt, the EmQuartier, Sukumvit 33 alley. Ticket price costs 160 baht, except “A Brighter Summer Day” costs 250 baht, due to its 4 hours length. All films are screened with English and Thai subtitles. For more information please visit www.majorcineplex.com