FORMOZAN B.B. IS COMIN (黑熊來了), WHALE ISLAND (男人與他的海), WATER WITH LIFE (水起‧臺灣), WALKING DHARMA (如常), and TSUNMA, TSUNMA: MY SUMMER WITH THE FEMALE MONASTICS OF THE HIMALAYA (尊瑪、尊瑪：我和她們在喜馬拉雅山的夏天), 5 Taiwanese documentaries will have their U.S. premieres as part of the lineup of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC)’s bi-annual film festival Season Eleven. All the titles will be available to stream in the U.S. via Festival Scope from Sept. 22 through Sept. 26. This entitled “Taiwan’s Week: Spotlight in Documentaries” section marks the first time for the film festival to highlight “a large selection of rarely shown documentaries to nurture our audience with strong dose of pure beauty -- both humanitarian and cinematic,” according to Sophia Wong Boccio, APUC’s Founder and Executive Director.
Taipei Culture Center (TPECC) in New York states that APUC has been delivering on its mission to be “your passport to Asian Cinema” for the moviegoers in Chicagoland since its establishment in 2015. This June, given that most of the states had implemented Stay-At-Home orders, TPECC in New York and APUC co-presented “Mini-Focus: Taiwan Cinema Online,” attracting a larger-than-expected audience to watch a number of critically and commercially acclaimed feature and short films from Taiwan. “Taiwan’s Week: Spotlight in Documentaries” offers a well-rounded experience of Taiwan’s ecological and social environments, reflecting the variety and versatility of filmmaking in the island.
FORMOSAN B.B. IS COMING is directed by the experienced mountaineer and director Mai Chueh-ming(麥覺明). Mai led his team to follow professor Hwang Mei-hsiu(黃美秀), the world's foremost expert on the Formosa Black Bear, into the deep, mountainous forests where the endangered species inhabits. The Formosa Black Bear is a symbol for Taiwan; however, illegal hunting and poaching cause a decline of these big mammals. No one knows exactly how many bears still exist. Taiwanese singer and record producer Bobby Chen(陳昇) was invited to compose and sing the theme song, “Tapushuuan Bring Little Bears Home (Tapushuuan帶小熊回家)” for the film. “Tapushuuan” means fireflies in Bununese (布農族語), one of the Indigenous languages in Taiwan.
WHALE ISLAND is directed by Huang Chia-chun(黃嘉俊). He spent 3 years documenting oceanic literature author Liao Hung-chi(廖鴻基) and underwater photographer Ray Chin(金磊) who have sailed all the way from eastern Taiwan to as far afield as Kingdom of Tonga, 5,000 miles away from home. Viewers can not only explore the beauty of the whales and the ocean, but also get a sense of the sea men’s struggle and helplessness in tug-of-war between dreams and realities. WHALE ISLAND won Best Foreign Documentary at 2020 Depth of Field International Festival and Press Award at 2020 Taipei Film Awards.
WATER WITH LIFE is the world’s first 8K high resolution environmental documentary, a groundbreaking collaboration between Delta Electronics Foundation (台達電子文教基金會) in Taiwan and NHK Enterprises in Japan. Featuring Taiwan’s and Japan’s waterscape throughout four seasons, the film takes audiences on an unprecedented journey that enables viewers to take a close look into the water habitat, the lives relying on water, and the impact and destruction caused by global warming. WATER WITH LIFE won a Gold Remi Award at 2020 WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival.
WALKING DHARMA is directed by Hsieh Hsih-chih(謝欣志) and Chen Chih-an (陳芝安). The film focuses on a group of Tzu Chi(慈濟)’s volunteers working silently in Taitung, Taiwan, where many elderly live alone or have to take care of their grandchildren while the parents are away working. Two directors spent a year-and-a-half shooting in Taitung, turning 7,000 minutes of footage into a 71-minute montage. According to Taipei Times, “The audience not only learns about the motives that drive these tireless volunteers; the film also offers a cross-section glimpse of the less fortunate in Taiwan, who are usually invisible to the public eye.” WALKING DHARNA was dubbed as “this summer’s most heartwarming documentary” while released in Taiwan last July.
TSUNMA, TSUNMA: MY SUMMER WITH THE FEMALE MONASTICS OF THE HIMALAYA is directed by Taiwanese photographer Lin Li-fang. “Tsunma,” an honorific term meaning “noble, delicate, and pure,” refers to the Tibetan Buddhist nuns in the Himalayan region, who have been largely ignored or forgotten by the traditions and the society they serve. Lin went on a solo journey up 4,270 meters to the Himalayan plateau and spent an entire summer with some of these nuns. In the unforgiving environment, she captured the life of a group of kind, humble, persevering people who dedicate themselves to keeping hope and faith alive. The documentary won Merit Prize at 2017 Women Make Waves Film Festival in Taiwan.
Celebrating its 5th Anniversary, Asian Pop-Up Cinema will present 22 movies, 15 online and 7 at a drive-in theater, running from September 10 through October 10. Additionally, pre-recorded “Filmmakers’ Talks” videos, responding to a questionnaire prepared by APUC’s elite virtual moderators, are included at the end of most films to enhance the audience’s understanding of cultural and artistic aspects of the pieces.
For more information, please visit APUC’s website: https://www.asianpopupcinema.org/season-11-overview; or Festival Scope’s: https://www.festivalscope.com/page/apuc-taiwan/.
Source: Asia Pop-Up Cinema