The San Francisco Film Society will present the fifth annual Taiwan Film Days, November 1–3 at the Vogue Theatre, in association with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, in San Francisco. This exciting event provides Bay Area audiences with unique opportunities to view bold new Taiwanese films and engage with visionary filmmakers. Taiwan Film Days is also a cinematic highlight for the local Chinese-speaking community and adventurous cinephiles of all stripes.
Taiwan Film Days kicks off in proper fashion with the crowd-pleasing culinary film Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast and continues with offerings in a variety of genres including an epic period drama, Ripples of Desire, a violent thriller, Soul (a hit at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival), and an entertaining girl-meets-boy tale in Apolitical Romance. TFD 2013 also features a number of exciting U.S. premieres, including the international co-production Taipei Factory, which pairs up emerging filmmakers to collaborate on innovative examinations of urban space, resulting in a rousing display of fresh talent.
For complete program information, including film descriptions, schedule and tickets, click.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 1
6:30 pm Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast OPENING NIGHT FILM
Chen Yu-hsun (Chong pu shih, Taiwan 2013)
A “zone pro site” is a catering chef who shows up at an outdoor banquet with nothing but his cooking utensils, and comes up with a menu on the spot based on the banquet’s theme and the ingredients provided. He is the original “Iron Chef.” This fictional fantasy focuses on several such struggling chefs as they develop recipes, rivalries and romances, culminating in a national cooking contest. Mixing food porn with slapstick humor, this film contains flying knives, weird dancing, gangsters, feminism and open displays of bravado. Reminiscent of the classic food film Tampopo, Zone Pro Site will leave you laughing and hungry. With Lin Mei-hsiu, Yang Yo-ling, Kimi Hsia. 145 min. In Mandarin and Taiwanese with subtitles.
9:30 pm Opening Night party with delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine at Paul Mahder Gallery.
9:30 pm Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 2
2:00 pm A Time in Quchi
Chang Tso-chi (Shu jia zuo ye, Taiwan 2013)
When Bao is left with his grandfather in Quchi (a rural outpost of Taipei) for the summer, he struggles with the withdrawal of disconnecting from the bustle, media and other children of his usual day-to-day life. His coming-of-age takes hold when he finds ways to occupy himself and feed his creative mind. As he becomes accustomed to new experiences and the underlying quiet, Bao begins to know himself. Told with wry humor and heartfelt twists, A Time in Quchi has drawn favorable comparisons to Hou Hsiao-hsien’s classic film A Summer at Grandpa’s and was a standout at this year’s Locarno Film Festival. With Yang Liang-yu, Kuan Yun-loong, Wen Hui-ming, Jin Zi-yan. 109 min. In Mandarin and Taiwanese with subtitles.
4:15 pm Taipei Factory North American Premiere
Singing Chen, Chang Jung-chi, Luis Cifuentes, Alireza Khatami, Shen Ko-shang, Joana Preiss, Jéro Yun, Midi Z (Tai pei kong chang, Taiwan 2013)
Produced through a joint project between the Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight and the Taipei Film Commission aimed at developing emergent filmmaking talent, Taipei Factory consists of four 15–20 minute films. Each work is a collaborative effort by two directors, one Taiwanese and one international, with representatives from Chile, France, Iran and South Korea. Meeting for the first time in Taipei, the eight directors shared their life experiences, formed pairs and cowrote and codirected their four contributions based on their shared impressions and imaginations of a city, creating innovative narratives, docudramas and experimental works. 71 min.
6:00 pm Forever Love North American Premiere
Aozaru Shiao, Kitamura Toyoharu (A ma de mong chun ching ren, Taiwan 2013)
Brimming with homages to classic genre films of the 1930s, Forever Love celebrates a bygone era of innocence, elegance and indulgence. Growing up in Taiwan’s Beitou district, Hsiao-Jie is skeptical of her grandparents’ stories of the district’s historic past. Each elder makes extravagant claims to fame in this once-great “Hollywood in Taiwan”—grandfather was the era’s most famous screenwriter, grandmother the period’s greatest actress—and Hsiao-Jie does not understand how they can be so stuck in the past until the day her grandfather reveals the legendary love story that took place in this Taiwanese Hollywood. With Long Shao-hua, Lang Chen-long, Amber An, Tien Hsin. 124 min. In Mandarin and Taiwanese with subtitles.
9:00 pm Soul
Chung Mong-hong (Shi huen, Taiwan 2013)
One of the contenders for the 2014 foreign-language Academy Award, Soul is an eerie, sometimes bloody thriller that circles around a strange question: “Who inhabits this man’s body?” Following a physical collapse, A-Chuan is released from the hospital into his father’s care and taken to his home in the mountains. It soon becomes clear that A-Chuan is deeply disturbed, stating unnervingly, “I saw this body was empty, so I moved in…” Thus begins a descent into violence, psychological torment and ultimately, possession. Who or what controls A-Chuan, and what is the responsibility of those around him to flush it out or stop it? With Jimmy Wong, Joseph Chang. 112 min. In Mandarin with subtitles.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 3
1:30 pm Taipei Factory see 11/2
3:15 pm Ripples of Desire
Zero Chou (Hua yang, Taiwan/China 2012)
Teeming with pirates and lepers, Drift Island may at first seem like an unlikely environment for a feminist romantic yarn. But, director Zero Chou’s new period piece set in the 17th century Ming Dynasty is full of surprises. Sisters and courtesans, Snow White (Michelle Chen, You are the Apple of My Eye, TFD 2012) and White Frost (Ivy Chen, Hear Me, TFD 2012) enchant every visitor to Madame Moon’s Flower House with their smoky music and dance numbers. When one of their costumers questions them about the status of women on the island, she sets the stage for star-crossed love, kidnapping and betrayal. With Ivy Chen, Jerry Yen, Michelle Chen, Joseph Cheng, Li Xiaoran. 122 min. In Mandarin and Taiwanese with subtitles.
6:00 pm Apolitical Romance North American Premiere
Hsieh Chun-yi (Dui mien de nu hai sha guo lai, Taiwan 2013)
Brash, funny and insightful, Apolitical Romance opens with A-Zheng, a young, slacker-ish bureaucrat at Taiwanese civil affairs. Charged with producing a manual on Taiwanese-Chinese cross-cultural etiquette, he quickly finds himself in over his head—he hasn’t the slightest idea of mainland Chinese customs. With hope waning, he meets a hip young woman from Beijing who will help him write his manual in exchange for a favor—she has to find her grandmother’s lost lover after losing a bet—and their uneasy partnership gives way to a series of errors and surprises. With Chang Shu-hao, Huang Lu. 90 min. In Mandarin with subtitles.
8:30 pm When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep
Hou Chi-jan (Nan fang xiao yang mu chang, Taiwan 2012)
This Taiwanese pop fable presents burgeoning love amidst anonymous notes, animated doodles and community organizing. When Tung awakes to read the post-it note affixed to his forehead, he learns he’s been dumped by his girlfriend who is changing her life by enrolling in a high-pressure “cram” school. Intent on winning her back, Tung takes a job printing exams for the school at a local copy shop. When he becomes intrigued by the drawings he finds on the exams, he starts to leave a few of his own, beginning what becomes a breathless series of unusual “pen pal” adventures. With Kai Ko, Chien Man-shu, Tsai Chen-nan, Kuo Shu-yau, Nikki Hsieh. 85 min. In Mandarin with subtitles.
For more information visit sffs.org.