What Time Is It There? Taiwan As Crossroads

What Time Is It There? Taiwan As Crossroads

Taiwan Film Series presented by UCLA Center for Chinese Studies and UCLA Film & Television Archive in association with Taiwan Academy


(Feb. 15 to March 19, 2014; Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum)

A national cinema distinguishes itself by filmmakers and films, but also, of course, by its coherence around themes and fascinations. The cinema of Taiwan, with its own world-renowned auteurs and healthy spread of popular genres, offers a striking distinction that appears in many guises: the formulation of Taiwan as a locus of plurality, liminality, change, exchange, and other de-centering principles that construct the nation not so much as a place of foundations, but of negotiations.  In part, this is certainly a response to Taiwan’s national history, which also informs the national imaginary: an experience of massive migrations and multiple overlapping colonizations spanning many centuries, as well as economic shifts that have witnessed increasingly frenetic flows of capital and labor in recent years. Corresponding with paradigm shifts in scholarly thought about the reality and image of Taiwan in the world, this film series, featuring new and classic comedies, dramas, formally rigorous art films and historical epics, offers visions of a nation acting not only as an origin or a destination, but as a relay point or “hub” through which people, art, investment, technology and social change pass, undergoing creative adaptations and transformations. This vision in turn presents a rewarding insight into Taiwan’s image and self-image, and accounts for much of the beauty and dynamism of its cinematic output. We are pleased to offer this eclectic selection, magnifying all of these themes. 

Curated by Robert Chi and Shannon Kelley, this film series is part of the “Spotlight Taiwan” program at the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies, with financial support from the Taiwan Ministry of Culture. 

Special thanks to: Susan Pertel Jain—UCLA; Benjamin Chi—Taiwan Academy; Teresa Huang—Chinese Taipei Film Archive; Jennifer Jao; Ivy Chang—Taipei Film Commission; Enga Chang—Central Motion Picture Corporation.

Thanks to: Dennis Lo, Chang Chuti.

Tickets are $10 each. (Free admission for UCLA students with valid ID's ) 



7:00 pm

Los Angeles premiere of original extended version!


Part I: Sun Flag     

PROD: John Woo, Terence Chang, Huang Chih-ming. DIR/SCR: Wei Te-sheng. CINE: Chin Ting-chang. EDIT: Chen Po-wen Milk Su. CAST: Lin Ching-tai, Umin Boya, Masanobu Ando.

Taiwan’s highest-grossing domestic film ever tells of the indigenous Seediq people, split into rival clans, who must find a way to overcome history and fight as one people against occupying Japan, during that nation’s colonial rule. Mona Rudao, one of the Seediq clan chiefs, finally launches an armed rebellion at Wushe in 1930. Based on a true story and richly detailed.

Digital video, color, in Seediq, Japanese and Taiwanese w/ English s/t, 144 min. 


Part II: Rainbow Bridge    

PROD: John Woo, Terence Chang, Jimmy Huang. DIR/SCR: Wei Te-sheng. CINE: Chin Ting-chang. EDIT: Chen Po-wen Milk Su. CAST: Lin Ching-tai, Umin Boya, Masanobu Ando.

After the initial uprising at Wushe, Mona Rudao faces an unwinnable guerrilla war against the militarily superior Japanese plus fierce rival Seediq clans. He and his followers must fight not just for their lives but for their dignity and honor—so that they can truly be “Seediq Bale” or “real men”.

Digital video, color, Seediq, Japanese and Taiwanese w/ English s/t, 131 min.


(Please note early start time. Part 2 wil also be presented a second time, as a matinee on February 22. Tickets purchased for tonight’s program will be honored at the February 22 matinee screening).



7:00 pm

YE-ZAI    Taiwan   2012

DIR: Tseng Ying-ting. SCR: Chen Yuli, Tseng Ying-ting. CINE: Hsu Fu-hsiang. EDIT: CAST: Shih Ming-Shuai, Sajee Apiwong, Phanet Phongsai, Wu Pong-fong, Huang Caiyi.

Taiwan’s economic development has made it a regional magnet for new immigrants along with new social problems and new stories about them. A new local profession has emerged as well: bounty hunters who catch illegal and runaway foreign workers. But when one bounty hunter, Ye-Zai, is sent to catch his own family’s runaway Thai maid, who is he really chasing?

Digital video, color, in Mandarin and Thai w/ English s/t, 81 min.


PINOY SUNDAY    Taiwan and Philippines    2009

PROD: Natacha Devillers, Morihisa Matsudaira, Mark Meily, Kenichiro Takiguchi. DIR: Ho Wi Ding. SCR: Ajay Balakrishnan, Ho Wi Ding. CAST: Bayani Agbayani, Epy Quizon, Meryll Soriano, Nor Domingo, Dave Ronald Cheng.

Taipei-based Malaysian filmmaker Ho Wi Ding’s comedy introduces two disadvantaged, Taipei-based Filipino migrant factory workers who see their fortunes possibly changing when they encounter a new, expensive sofa abandoned on a city sidewalk. Hoping the almost mythical find will change their lives (it certainly changes their day), they carry the sofa homeward; facing obstructions both logistical and cultural in the churning, polyglot metropolis.

35mm, color, Tagalog, Mandarin and English w/ English s/t, 84 min.



3:00 pm


Part 2: Rainbow Bridge

Please note: This is a repeat screening of Part 2, which also screens on February 15. Tickets purchased at that program will be honored at today’s matinee screening. See the February 15 program description for more details.



7:00 pm

Restored by Chinese Taipei Film Archive.

OUR NEIGHBORS    Taiwan   1963

DIR: Lee Hsing. SCR: Yao Feng-pang. CINE: Lai Cheng-ying. EDIT: Chang Yung-chia. CAST: Ho Yu-hua, Lei Ming, Li Kuan-chang, Li Yu-chen, Lo Wan-lin.

An orphaned girl in a poverty-stricken neighborhood is adopted by a kindly neighbor.  He struggles to support her honestly, despite opportunities to participate in a neighbor’s scurrilous get-rich-quick schemes. Invoking the pain of Chinese exiles living in Taiwan, or missing relatives still in China, the touching film posits an in-between historical period during which it is crucial for displaced residents to maintain virtue as a bedrock of identity.

HDCAM, b/w, in Mandarin and Taiwanese w/ English s/t, 90 min.


HOME SWEET HOME    Taiwan   1970

PROD: Henry Kung. DIR: Pai Ching-jui. SCR: Chang Yung-hsiang, based on a story by Meng Yao. CINE: Lin Tsan-ting. EDIT: Wang Jin-chen. CAST: Chang Hsiao-yen, Chen Kuo Chun, Chen Hui Mei, Li Chang, Chu Bo-lin.

Going abroad has its own allures. But what happens when people come back home? This rediscovered classic combines an all-star ensemble cast, colorful clashes of rural nostalgia and sixties pop style, and film techniques that director Pai Ching-jui himself learned while studying filmmaking in Italy.

HDCAM, color, 108 min.



7:30 pm

AU REVOIR, TAIPEI     Germany / Taiwan / USA    2010

PROD: Wim Wenders, Liu Wei-Jan, In-Ah Lee, Meileen Choo. DIR/SCR: Arvin Chen. CINE: Michael Fimognari. EDIT: Justin Guerrieri. CAST: Jack Yao, Amber Kuo, Joseph Chang, Ke Yulun, Frankie Gao. 

After Kai’s girlfriend goes abroad to study, he dreams of following her. So he tries to teach himself French at the 24 hour Eslite Bookstore—where real adventures begin in Taipei, the most romantic city in the world. Executive produced by Wim Wenders, American-born Taiwanese writer/director Arvin Chen’s debut feature won festival awards in Berlin, San Francisco, and Taipei.

35mm, color, in Taiwanese, Mandarin and French w/ English s/t, 85 min.



DIR/SCR: Arvin Chen. CINE: EDIT: Justin Guerrieri. CAST: Richie Ren, Mavis Fan, Kimi Hsia.

Arvin Chen’s light-hearted second feature places his central character at a crossroads: married and contemplating a second child with his wife, Weichung re-encounters a former friend from his earlier gay life, uncorking an intoxicating brew of memories and new/old experiences. Delightfully, the film positions his struggle as just one negotiation among many, as his family members also undergo relationship ups and downs, all handled with a deft touch.

Digital video, color, in Mandarin and Taiwanese w/ English s/t, 104 min.


In person: Arvin Chen.



7:30 pm

New Digital Restoration!

THE SANDWICH MAN   Taiwan   1983

PROD: Ming Ji. DIR: Hou Hsiao-hsien, Wan Jen, Jong Cheung-Tsang. SCR: Wu Nien-chen. CINE: Chen Kun Hao. EDIT: Liao Ching-song. CAST: Chen Bo Jeng, Cho Sheng-li, Chiang Hsia, Jing Ding, Yang Li-Yin.

Based on short stories by the nativist writer Huang Chunming, the three episodes in this film explore the local and everyday effects of distant modernizing forces in Taiwan during the 1960s. One of the seminal films of the Taiwan New Cinema, The Sandwich Man launched the careers of its three young directors and shaped Taiwan’s onscreen image for years.

Digital video, color, in Mandarin and Taiwanese w/ English s/t, 102 min.


ISLAND ETUDE    Taiwan    2006

PROD: Yang Lai-yin. DIR/SCR/CINE: Chen Huai-en. EDIT: Chen Bo-wen. CAST: Tung Ming-hsiang, Teng An-ning, Ruta Palionyte, Danny Deng, Darren.

A young man embarks upon a bicycle tour around the periphery of the island of Taiwan. Along the way he encounters many fellow travelers: a graffiti artist, a lovely traveling student from Lithuania, allowing each to affect him in some way. In this moving valentine to Taiwanese civil society, “Ming’s” experiences suggest the negotiations and transformations taking place everywhere in the country… for those open to experience.

35mm, color, in Mandarin and Lithuanian w/ English s/t, 109 min.




7:30 pm

WHAT TIME IS IT THERE?    Taiwan / France    2001

PROD: Bruno Pesery. DIR: Tsai Ming-liang. SCR: Tsai Ming-liang, Yang Pi-ying. CINE: Benoît Delhomme. EDIT: Chen Sheng-chang. CAST: Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Lu Yi-ching, Miao Tien, Jean-Pierre Léaud.

For two decades the Malaysian-Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang has explored spatial, temporal, and psychological displacement in the global city. Here Tsai’s perennial leading man Hsiao-Kang sells his dual time wristwatch to a young woman about to leave Taipei for Paris. Despite the earthly time zones that separate them, they find a connection via memory, ghosts, and—thanks to Truffaut alter ego Jean-Pierre Léaud—the cinema itself.

35mm, color, 116 min.




7:00 pm 

Los Angeles premiere!

STRAY DOGS    Taiwan / France    2013

PROD: Jacques Bidou, Marianne Dumoulin. DIR: Tsai Ming-liang. SCR: Tung Cheng Yu, Peng Fei, Tsai Ming-liang. CINE: Liao Pen Jung, Sun Wen Jong. EDIT: Lei Chen Ching. CAST: Lee Kang-sheng, Lee Yi-chieh, Lee Yi-cheng, Lu Yi-ching, Chen Shiang-chyi.

Tsai Ming-liang searingly renders the situational and emotional experiences of a homeless family in remote, indifferent Taipei, with a pendant beauty that suggests memory and dream more than actual presence. Highly figurative and enigmatic, the film shuttles its characters between alienating atmospheres where the filmmaker’s langorous treatment of duration, and performances qualifying as almost pure pantomime, hauntingly pose the question: what is next for these human souls?

Digital video, color, 138 min.



7:30 pm

YANG YANG    Taiwan   2009

PROD: Lee Khan. DIR/SCR: Cheng Yu-chieh. CINE: Jake Pollock. EDIT: Liu Yue-xing. CAST: Sandrine Pinna, Bryant Chang, Huang Chien-wei, Her Sy-huoy, Lee Khan.

Twenty-year-old Yang Yang stands out in a crowd. A collegiate athlete turned fashion model, she’s a mixed-race French Taiwanese who is all too used to being fetishized, though she doesn’t speak a word of French. Her tenuous sense of self, as one who is often admired or desired but always somehow separate, leads her on a tortuous life’s path where identity, loyalty and direction are all thrown into question.

Digital video, color, in Mandarin and French w/ English s/t, 112 min.


CHOCOLATE RAP    Taiwan   2009

PROD: Chien Li-fen. DIR/SCR/EDIT: Chi Y. Lee. CINE: Lawrence Schweich. CAST: Akio Chen, Chen Hsin-hung, Megan Lai, Huang Po-ching, Tong Jian-kong.

B-boys Choco and Pachinko dance with their heads on the ground and their feet in the air to get the attention of Ally, the classical pianist surfer girl downstairs. UCLA alum Chi Y. Lee’s film captures the kinetic and funky youth culture of contemporary Taiwan out of which have emerged world-class competitive hip-hop dancers. Do not try this at home!

Digital video, color, in Mandarin w/ English s/t, 84 min. 



Published: Tuesday, January 07, 2014