The Taiwan Film Festival premieres in UKby Shruthi Venkatesh April 11 2019, 2:54 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 26 secs
In London, the Taiwan Film Festival UK kicked-off on 3rd of April featuring a classic Taiwanese martial arts movie, a virtual reality (VR) pop-up cinema and other Taiwanese films on a variety of topics.
With collaboration between HTC Vive, Art Cinema and MSI, the VR pop-up cinema premiered the Taiwanese VR film, ‘The Deserted’. It was directed by the multi-award winning Taiwanese director Tsai Ming Liang who collaborated with Taiwanese architect Rain Wu to create the cinema. The story screens as it “tells the surreal story of a man living in a ruined house in the mountains with two ghosts and a fish. Recovering from an illness and unable to communicate with the ghosts, his only companion is the lone fish who swims with him in the bathtub.”
Taiwanese VR film 'The Deserted' screened at the Taiwan Film Festival UK
Tsai Ming-Liang is one of the most prominent film directors of the new cinema movement in Taiwan. In 1994, his film ‘Vive L’ amour’ was awarded the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, and this helped establish a place for him in the world of international film. In 2009, ‘Face’ became the first film to be included in the collection of the Louvre Museum’s “Le Louvre s’offre aux cineastes.”
In recent years, Tsai Ming-Liang has also moved on to installation art. His works have been well-received in Venice, Shanghai, and Nagoya. Since 2012, he has been working on a long project to film Lee Kang-Sheng’s slow walk, cooperating with various cities and organisations. His 10th full-length feature ‘Stray Dogs’ (2013) was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 70th Venice Film Festival. In 2014, he presented the critically acclaimed theatre work ‘The Monk from Tang Dynasty’ in arts festivals in Brussels, Vienna, Gwangju and Taipei. That same year, Tsai made history by bringing his movie ‘Stray Dogs’ at the Museum at MoNTUE, the Museum of National Taipei University of Education.
Earlier, Tsai had featured subjects like musical sequences, surreal comedy, and plenty of sex – gay, straight, solo, even watermelon-sequences, as in case of 2005’s ‘The Wayward Cloud’. “In the past I really cared if people understood my films, but when you grow older, you care less,” says Tsai. “You want to do something to please yourself. I feel like the film industry has trapped film-makers. They tell you need to have a narrative structure, you need to do things a certain way. They limit the imaginations of film-makers. I often think about, what is the meaning of film? What does film want to say? The simple thing is film is about images.”
‘The Deserted’ is possibly Tsai’s most thoughtful work yet. Free of dialogue and narrative, it is set in abandoned, overgrown apartment block in the Taiwanese countryside, occupied by a man with illness, and what could be the ghosts of his mother and wife, and a large, white pet fish. The action is unhurried but never dull to look at, and one could always find him on the edge of the chair to appreciate the stained concrete walls, the puddles on the floor and the lush greenery outside the pane-less windows.
“Art Cinema is thrilled to work with Taiwan Film Festival and help stage the UK premiere of The Deserted by the highly-acclaimed Director Tsai Ming-Liang. 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,” says Art Cinema founder, Myriam Blundell Phillips in a statement.
The Taiwan Film Festival UK aims to showcase the talented and distinct cinematic voice of Taiwan through a programme of classic and new independent films. These events also provide opportunities for Taiwanese filmmakers and producers to showcase their works to Icelandic and UK distributors.