Noted Taiwanese Films at Criterion Channel for Cinephiles to Binge in the Age of Social Distancing
In the beginning of May, Criterion Channel, well-known for its carefully curated programs, pumped out several new exciting movies and collections, including 3 works by of Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang. The service praised Tsai as “the most celebrated figure of the Second New Wave of Taiwanese cinema” by charting “the contours of contemporary alienation in mesmerizingly enigmatic works that are at once rigorously spare and richly sensuous.”

In fact, Criterion Channel also presents other legendary Taiwanese filmmakers’ masterworks, including King Hu’s DRAGON INN and A TOUCH OF ZEN; as well as Edward Yang’s TAIPEI STORY, A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY and YI YI. King Hu is the progenitor of the wuxia blockbuster, and his balletic fight sequences have influenced the modern wuxiapian, such as Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Zhang Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers. Edward Yang was another principal figure – along with Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang – in the New Taiwan cinema of the 1990s. He was the first Taiwanese filmmaker who won the Best Director at Cannes Film Festival 2000 for YI YI.

All the titles and synopses are as follows:

Dragon Inn《龍門客棧》

Directed by King Hu • 1967 • Taiwan
Starring Polly Ling-feng Shang-kuan, Shih Chun, Bai Ying, Chien Tsao

The art of martial-arts filmmaking took a leap into bold new territory with this action-packed tale of Ming-dynasty intrigue. After having the emperor’s minister of defense executed, a power-grabbing eunuch sends assassins to trail the victim’s children to a remote point on the northern Chinese border. But that bloodthirsty mission is confounded by a mysterious group of fighters who arrive on the scene, intent on delivering justice and defending the innocent. The first film King Hu made after moving to Taiwan from Hong Kong in search of more creative freedom, DRAGON INN combines rhythmic editing, meticulous choreography, and gorgeous widescreen compositions with a refinement that was new to the wuxia genre. Its blockbuster success breathed new life into a classic formula and established Hu as one of Chinese cinema’s most audacious innovators.

Restored by Taiwan Film Institute’s Taiwan cinema digital restoration project.

A Touch of Zen《俠女》

Directed by King Hu • 1971 • Hong Kong, Taiwan
Starring Hsu Feng, Shih Chun, Bai Ying

"Visionary" barely begins to describe this masterpiece of Chinese cinema and martial arts moviemaking. A TOUCH OF ZEN by King Hu depicts the journey of Yang, a fugitive noblewoman in disguise who seeks refuge in a remote, and allegedly haunted, village. The sanctuary she and her three companions find with a shy scholar is shattered when a nefarious swordsman uncovers her identity, pitting the five against legions of blade-wielding opponents. At once a wuxia film, the tale of a spiritual quest, and a study in human nature, A TOUCH OF ZEN is an unparalleled work in Hu's formidable career and an epic of the highest order, characterized by breathtaking action choreography, stunning widescreen landscapes, and innovative editing.

Restored by Taiwan Film Institute’s Taiwan cinema digital restoration project.

Taipei Story 《青梅竹馬》

Directed by Edward Yang• 1985• Taiwan
Starring Chin Tsai, Hsiao-hsien Hou, I-chen Ko, Su-yun Ko
Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project

Edward Yang’s second feature is a mournful anatomy of a city caught between the past and the present. Made in collaboration with Yang's fellow New Taiwan Cinema master Hsiao-hsien Hou, TAIPEI STORY chronicles the growing estrangement between a washed-up baseball player working in his family’s textile business and his girlfriend, who clings to the upward mobility of her career in property development. As the couple's dreams of marriage and emigration begin to unravel, Yang’s gaze illuminates the precariousness of domestic life and the desperation of Taiwan’s globalized modernity.

Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique and Taiwanese master Hsiao-hsien Hou.

A Brighter Summer Day 《牯嶺街少年殺人事件》

Directed by Edward Yang • 1991 • Taiwan
Starring Chang Chen, Lisa Yang

Set in the early sixties in Taiwan, A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY is based on the true story of a crime that rocked the nation. A film of both sprawling scope and tender intimacy, this novelistic, patiently observed epic centers on the gradual, inexorable fall of a young teenager from innocence to juvenile delinquency, and is set against a simmering backdrop of restless youth, rock and roll, and political turmoil.

Restored in 2009 by the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the Central Motion Picture Corporation, and the Edward Yang Estate. Scan performed at Digimax laboratories in Taipei.

Yi Yi 《一一》

Directed by Edward Yang • 2000 • Taiwan, Japan
Starring Nianzhen Wu, Elaine Jin, Issey Ogata

The extraordinary, internationally embraced YI YI (A ONE AND A TWO . . .), directed by the late Taiwanese master Edward Yang, follows a middle-class family in Taipei over the course of one year, beginning with a wedding and ending with a funeral. Whether chronicling middle-age father NJ’s tentative flirtations with an old flame or precocious young son Yang-Yang’s attempts at capturing reality with his beloved camera, the filmmaker deftly imbues every gorgeous frame with a compassionate clarity. Warm, sprawling, and dazzling, this intimate epic is one of the undisputed masterworks of the new century.

Rebels of the Neon God 《青少年哪吒》

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang • 1992 • Taiwan
Starring Chen Chao-jung, Jen Chang-bin, Lee Kang-sheng

Tsai Ming-liang’s debut feature heralded the arrival of one of contemporary cinema’s most acclaimed and idiosyncratic auteurs. The striking first expression of the Taiwanese director’s recurring theme of urban alienation, REBELS OF THE NEON GOD centers on a directionless student as he becomes involved with a pair of petty criminals amid the arcades, roller rinks, and seedy hotels of the Taipei night world. Paying homage to a tradition of troubled teen pictures stretching back to Nicholas Ray, Tsai crafts a coolly stylized vision of lost youth adrift in a dead-end world.

The Wayward Cloud 《天邊一朵雲》

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang • 2005 • Taiwan
Starring Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Lu Yi-ching

Sex, musical numbers, and watermelons collide in the most daringly outrageous film yet from visionary director Tsai Ming-liang. In a drought-stricken Taipei where water is so scarce that people have taken to drinking watermelon juice for sustenance, a pornographic actor (Tsai regular Lee Kang-sheng) and a museum tour guide find themselves drawn together by fate—but will they ever truly connect? Punctuated by surrealist production numbers that play like MGM extravaganzas gone avant-garde, THE WAYWARD CLOUD blends high camp and genuine human feeling into a fantastically strange, singular romance.

Stray Dogs 《郊遊》

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang • 2013 • Taiwan, France
Starring Lee Kang-sheng, Yang Kuei-mei, Lu Yi-ching

On the margins of a crumbling, perpetually rain-soaked Taipei, a single father (Lee Kang-sheng) makes his meager living holding up an advertising placard on a traffic island in the middle of a busy highway. His children, meanwhile, wait out their days in supermarkets, living off samples of free food. And then one day, a mysterious woman enters their lives. There are real stray dogs to be fed in Tsai’s everyday apocalypse, but the title also refers to its principal characters, living the cruelest of existences on the ragged edges of the modern world. STRAY DOGS is many things at once: minimal in its narrative content and syntax, as visually powerful as it is emotionally overwhelming, and bracingly pure in both its anger and its compassion.

(Source: Criterion Channel)

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Taiwanese Artists Winning Big at the 35th Lucille Lortel Awards produced by the Off-Broadway League
The 35th Lucille Lortel Award Winners:

Outstanding Scenic Design
《Mrs. Murray's Menagerie》
You-Shin Chen 陳幼欣 and Laura Jellinek
You-Shin Chen is committed to diversity and humanity. She is the recipient of the 2019 Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award at The Lilly Awards.
◆ Design for Stage and Film, New York University Tisch school of the Arts
◆ Department of Drama and Theatre, National Taiwan University

Outstanding Projection Design
《The Headlands》
Ruey Horng Sun 孫瑞鴻
Ray Sun Ruey-Horng is a video artist who specializes in time-based media work in conjunction with live performances. His installation and video works focus on human perception, memories and the uncanny experiences in our daily lives.
◆ Video for Performance, California Institute of the Arts
◆ Department of Theatrical Design&Technology, Taipei National University of the Arts

The 35th Annual Lucille Lortel Award virtual ceremony was livestream broadcasted on Sunday May 3rd, 19 categories were presented and two honorary awards were bestowed.

The Lucille Lortel Awards recognize excellence in New York Off-Broadway theatre. The Awards are named for Lucille Lortel, an actress and theater producer, and have been awarded since 1986. They are produced by the Off-Broadway League by special arrangement with the Lucille Lortel Foundation, with additional support from the Theatre Development Fund.

2020 Lucille Lortel Award
Watch the Award Ceremony
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Musicians and Dancers in New York Take Part in Weiwuying Relay Challenge of Bach's Music
The National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying), Taiwan(衛武營國家藝術文化中心 )initiated an on-line “Music Playing of Musical Offering” project on April 3(Taiwan Time), inviting musicians and performers, whether in Taiwan or from overseas to take part in this music relay challenge.

Several musicians and performers, living in or associated with New York City when now the city has become the epicenter of Coronavirus Pandemic in America, choose to respond to the relay challenge with passionate energy, and create variations of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Musical Offering (BWV 1079).”, with uploading video clips of them playing either the whole piece or an excerpt in its original form or in their own arrangement on their Facebook.

Taiwanese Vibraphonist/ Composer Yuhan Su(蘇郁涵), collaborating with her good friends, pianist Yuying Hsu(許郁瑛) and visual artist, Nung Hsin Hu made an outstanding video, which is a “Canones Diversi by Bach literally after night-n-day’s efforts” The three partners finished this piece together, while they are actually living separately in New York, Los Angeles and Taiwan. Yuhan said, “It has been a lovely/ intense experience producing this video with the help and love from my musical sister Yuying and great friend visual artist NungHsin, also thanks Betsy for the mixing. It reminds me no matter where our body stuck at, our mind, music soul, still can flow, share, and deliver.”

Janet Yieh(葉懷真), organist and Isabel Ong(翁馨怡), violinist did likewise, they created their version of Bach’s Trio Sonata I. Largo, BWV 1079, playing their own instruments at their homes in New York and South Carolina. On the contrary, Hsin-Yun Huang (黃心芸), who now serves on the faculties of Juilliard and Curtis, was able to play “really together” a version of Bach with her husband Misha Amory, violinist of Brentano String Quartet and their son Lucas, pianist at their home in New York City.

Dancer I-Ling Liu (劉奕伶), living and working in New York City, accepted the challenge from her friend, Ya Ting Chang(張雅婷), who is the first one taking the challenge as a dancer in Taiwan. They both used the original version of Bach’s Music offering as background music to choreograph. I-Ling’s dance incorporated with her daily life and makes the whole video truly represents a stay-at-home reality as a New Yorker at this time.

Having been a New Yorker himself, the founder/ bandleader Vincent Hsu (徐崇育) launched his musical career in New York City. The Vicent Hsu & Soy La Ley Afro-Cuban Jazz Band(徐崇育 & Soy La Ley 古巴爵士樂團), which performed their world premier “Hola Pops! The Latin Side of Louis Armstrong”last year in New York, also took up the relay challenge and posted their version of Bach with Afro-Chuban Jazz style on Facebook. 

The whole relay challenge brings the courage for peopel at this pandemic time to imagine the otherwise, adding color to all our life now. Like what the Weiwuying General and Artistic Director Chien Wen-pin (簡文彬) said, "Although we may be unable to perform on stage, we can still spread our thoughts on music through the Internet,” arts continue in its own way.

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“Tribeca Talk: At Home” Gives A Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse of Taiwanese VR Film “HOME”
While the pandemic has brought film industry to a screeching halt, Tribeca Film Festival took a bold move on the fly by launching its 15 Cinema360 films online. The lineup included a Taiwanese VR film “Home,” which was categorized into “Kinfolk” program.

On April 23rd, Loren Hammonds, TFF Senior Programmer of Film and Immersive, moderated a virtual panel discussion with innovative creators behind “Kinfolk” program for a special conversation on their work and the meaning of nostalgia, home, and family. Hammonds also mentioned as of the date, the program earned over 2,000 views – a number that the physical event could not even had in an entire week of showing the same pieces. Therefore, he gave special thanks to all the creators who had agreed to share their brilliant works with global audiences via the online platform.

The panel members include director Ainslee Robson of “Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir In VR,” director Diego Kompel of “The Inhabited House"; representing director HSU Chih-yen for his moive “Home”, the international coordinator KUO Min-Wei from Kaohsiung VR Film Lab, said that the film was shot in HSU’s grandparent house several months after his grandmother passed away. However, the property had been returned to the government since the house is located in a military dependent village. The production team needed to get the permission in advance for shooting a film in the house, and then moved all the furniture - collected and well preserved by HSU’s uncles - back to recreate the old home, where the director and his family members have had a lots of memories. Hammonds added that “You can feel reality and comfortability out of the film, and part of that is because of a mixture of actors and HSU’s real family members in the film. ‘Home’ is kind of a hybrid docufiction, which is interesting.”

KUO pointed out that Kaohsiung VR Film Lab has collaborated with Taiwanese filmmakers to create five original VR works annually. “Home” was one of the projects supported by the lab. She also added it was the lab that approached HSU initially, and the story HSU pitched came as a surprise given that HSU’s previous works, such as music videos and commercials, are quite trendy, even a little quirky, and his first feature “Dear Ex” is a romantic drama movie. In contrast, “Home” is a story based on HSU’s personal family experience with a heartwarming presentation. Moreover, during his pitch, HSU already adeptly utilized the concept of Immersive technology even though he had never worked with it before, KUO recalled. “Home” is a 17-minute continuous-shot film of a family reunion in Taiwan, with all shots from the perspective of a great-grandmother sitting in her wheelchair. The film offers a rare glimpse into a way of life that seems truly authentic and caring.
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Taiwanese artists win seven Independent Music Awards
Winners of the 18th annual Independent Music Awards (IMAs) in the U.S. were announced on April 28(EST). The 18th IMAs canceled this year’s live ceremony, and instead Tuesday announced the year’s best self-released and indie label projects online.

This year’s winning projects were culled from thousands of Album, EP, Song, Producer, Music Video and Visual Design submissions from 73 countries on 6 continents; Nominees were announced earlier this year.

Out of 16 nominations, Taiwanese composer, Jazz band, Indie bands, and visual designers have won 7 awards.

The Taiwanese artists four-man metal band FUTURE AFTER A SECOND, which won the award for best metal/hardcore song with "Invert."Jazz band Skyline's album, Symphojazz, won in the live performance category, while composer Ian Chen received the award for best film/TV/game score for his original soundtrack to the Fantastic Creatures game.
A-Flight, which produced the audio for a short film promoting Taiwan's 2019 Golden Bell Awards.

Taiwanese artist shines in the design category. Li Jheng-han, Chen Hsin-hung and Tai Hsiao-yin won best album packaging for Emerge House Band's album "Time." Ye Fong-yau won in the artist concert photo category for his work with Japanese punk band Brahman at the Fireball Festival, while Ji Chen-chi's work at Taiwanese indie band Amazing Show's "The Great Paradisiacal Mountain" concert won in the music promo poster category.

“The world needs to hear from independent artists now more than ever. We didn’t want to keep it waiting”, said The Independent Music Awards Executive Director Martin Folkman. The IMAs would make an ongoing, online showcase for the winners 2020 later this year.

To see the completed winners list:

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【A Night with Bulareyaung Dance Company】Live Stream | Taitung, New York, London and Paris

【A Night with Bulareyaung Dance Company】is conceived and organized by Artistic Director Bulareyaung Pagarlava and the dancers after the cancellation of【Not Afraid of the Sun and Rain】due to the COVID-19 outbreak, its world premiere was originally scheduled on April 17 at the National Theater in Taipei, as part of Taiwan International Festival of Arts. The company decided to make a performance happen in the hometown Taitung to share love and courage with the world on the day.

Inspired by Andrea Bocelli's【Music For Hope】Concert On Easter Sunday from Italy’s Duomo Di Milano, the joint force of Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Cultural Taiwan UK and Centre culturel de Taïwan à Paris will share【A Night with Bulareyaung Dance Company】LIVE STREAM with Bulareyaung Dance Company布拉瑞揚舞團BDC.

【A Night with Bulareyaung Dance Company】
Friday, April 17, 2020.

Bulareyaung Dance Company|布拉瑞揚舞團 BDC | 8PM Taiwan

Taipei Cultural Center in New York|駐紐約台北文化中心 | 8AM New York

Cultural Taiwan UK|駐英國代表處文化組 | 1PM London

Centre culturel de Taïwan à Paris|駐法國台灣文化中心 | 2PM Paris

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Taiwanese Bands Nominated for U.S. 18th Independent Music Awards
Taiwanese bands, composer, singer, music producers and music video/film visual designers and directors have been nominated for the 18th annual Independent Music Awards (IMAs) in the U.S., according to the event website.

The winner of the 21st edition Golden Melody Awards 《 Best Album in Hakka 》, Yachun Asta Tzeng, and two Jazz music producers, Richard Li, Jazzy Su, were shortlisted in the Music Producer Categories for their album “Yourself” and “Skyline-City Exploration.” Composer Ian Chen, a 2019 Golden Bell Award nominee for his work on the soundtrack for the Netflix series GREEN DOOR, was shortlisted in the Album Category for its Game Score “Fantastic Creatures(Original Soundtrack).”

Taiwanese metal band FUTURE AFTER A SECOND was nominated for best Metal/Hardcore song “Invert”, in its album “OFiN,” which is also shortlisted for the best album art/photography and artist publicity photo for the same album. Another Taiwanese heavy metal band Flesh Juicer was short listed for the best music promo poster "Build It on Brutal Taichung 2019,” along with Taiwanese Indie rock band Amazing Show was shortlisted for best artist publicity photo and music promo poster award for its album "You Are My Crazy Lover.”

Now in its 18th year, the IMAs honors exceptional music, video, concert photography and designs by established and emerging talent. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The 18th annual Independent Music Awards ceremony originally scheduled for June in New York City will proceed as an online showcase for this year’s top-ranked artists and music projects. More details and a new announcement schedule will be released in the days ahead. 

View all 18th IMA Nominees:

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