Exhibition and Performance Feature Taiwanese in Film and Musical Theater

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The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York has been pretty active of late, and we’re excited that it’s supported Spotlight on New York: 2015 Taiwanese Student Film Exhibition and Salute to Broadway: Movie Sings, two events that highlight up and coming Taiwanese in film, film arts, and performing arts.  Spotlight on New York runs from January 15 – 21, and Salute to Broadway takes place on January 16 at 6:30 PM.

Charged by Dr. Charlin Chang (張佳琳), Director of Education Division at TECO, with showcasing works by students from Taiwan who are studying film in New York, event curator Hui Chen (陳慧) thought bigger than the usual picture show and took another approach.  Hui, who has worked as a production designer for film, recognized filmmaking as a team effort and wanted to share its complexity to audiences who might not understand why a movie’s end credits are more than just a place to put outtakes and teasers.  She explains, “You need a director to guide, to listen and to be involved into all sorts of decision-makings; you need a screenwriter to build a group of characters with depths and share the dramaturgical concept; you need a DP (Director of Photography) to provide the dynamic composition on the frames; you need a composer to convey your story with the embedded music; you need a production designer being your eyes supervising any visual information and aesthetics choices.”  Analogizing that “everyone involved is like a small piece of machinery that helps the completion of the engine,” she herself is still amazed that everything comes together despite differing points of view.

To show these different parts, the exhibition is divided into three parts that occupy all of TECO’s public space.  First, visitors are welcomed to the exhibition by photography, stills, and film scores in the lobby.  Early film ideas and development are shown through production design artwork (draftings, sketches, and model displays), like You-Shin Chen’s (陈幼欣) miniature inspired by the set of Hitchcock’s The Birds, on the second floor.  Finally, because no film exhibition is complete without actually showing films, the lower level theater will screen an assortment of films on which the participants worked on in various capacities (see below) and four features that have hit the film festival circuit: Tomorrow Comes TodayConspiracyMaquette 1:1000, and Knighthood.  The feature films have one screening each, and the others will screen daily throughout the exhibition’s run.

 

The eleven people featured are mostly students at NYU and Columbia University and have diverse backgrounds in film, theater, music composition, journalism, literary studies, and television.  Some would like to join the American film industry, and others are eager to bring their training and experiences back to Taiwan to improve the quality of local films.  Hui believes both paths are good and sees an eagerness to express themselves and contribute.  She credits Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, which was shot in Taiwan and included many young local filmmakers, as instrumental in encouraging others to come to the United States to study film.

To Hui, the exhibition is more than a showcase of talent.  “The original simple showcase has turned a one-way output into a two-way flow,” she says.  “I believe this exhibition will also be a bridge, a connection for all these Taiwanese filmmakers to share and exchange their stories and their experiences from now on, and it will definitely help the flow in the Taiwanese film community.”

The screening schedule can be found here, and we’ve put together the films’ synopses and trailers below.  Additional information about those featured and their works can be found on the exhibition website and Facebook page.

Trailer:

Salute to Broadway: Movie Sings

Kicking off the exhibition with song and dance is Salute to Broadway: Movie Sings, the third cabaret performance in a series spearheaded by Ching Hui Chen (陳菁蕙).  The evening features performers and musicians, many of whom have professional experience in Taiwan’s developing musical theater scene but are here to further their studies in voice, music, or drama or to seek a bigger stage.

The series came together when Ching Hui and her friends found limited opportunities for young Asian performers to be cast in musicals.  Not satisfied with waiting around for call-backs, they too matters into their own hands and banded together to develop this series she likens to “Musical 101” class.  Salute to Broadway makes musical theater accessible to the non-theater going audience by smartly highlighting familiar ideas in its themes.  “A musical can be the novel you’ve read before, the love stories happen around you, and the movies you’re familiar with,” Ching Hui explains.  The first program, Literature Sings, held last November, selected songs from musicals that are based on different literary formats, such as novels, poetry, memoirs.  The following month, in Love Sings, they explored different aspects and types of love like being heartbroken, same-sex relationships, and loving a literal monster.  Movie Sings focuses on songs from musicals, like Chicago, that have been interpreted on the silver screen.

Salute to Broadway has the potential to open doors for these talented performers and gives them experience to perhaps contribute to musical theater in Taiwan.  For now, like many others in the performing arts, these Taiwanese performers are “fighting to survive”, sometimes working two or three jobs to support themselves.   Yet, Ching Hui remains upbeat, “When performer stands on a big stage, when administrator produces a great show, [the difficulties] don’t matter.”

Bios of the performers can be found on the Salute to Broadway page and its Facebook page.

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Spotlight on New York: 2015 Taiwanese Student Film Exhibition
January 15 – 21 (see website for exhibition hours and screening times)
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, 1 E. 42nd Street
Free,but RSVP requested for feature screenings

Salute to Broadway
January 16, 6:30 PM
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, 1 E. 42nd Street
Free, but RSVP requested

Thanks to Xiaolei Zhang for attending the press conference and providing photos and Hui Chen and Ching Hui Chen for providing information and photos.


Press conference photos:

Spotlight on New York: 2015 Taiwanese Student Film Exhibition Film Synposes

Screening A

Yi-Mei Huang (黄怡玫) (Screenwriting) – Envelopes (紅包) – A nuanced family drama about a Chinese father struggling against his declining influence on his first generation children. The film takes place over the course of a single evening, and is centered around a holiday dinner party.

Huei-Yin Chen (陈慧颖) (Directing/Screenwriting) –  Holding My Absence (不在) – A girl finds herself perpetually caught within flow of moving images that gradually becomes the only reality of hers and takes on the role of defining her existence. The short film attempts to investigate the crossroads of reality and fictional world, memory and dream, ritual and mythology in the form of moving images.

Mitch Lin (林明学) (Film Scoring) – On Board (阿公的玩具火車) – A 2D animation composited on top of video footage of cardboard miniature set. Via the elegant melody of pure piano, an old man travels through his memory of his beloved wife on his grandson‘s toy train.‮

Meng-Mei Kuo 郭孟玫 (Film Scoring) – Owl and Mouse (貓頭鷹與老鼠) – Kuo composed Owl and Mouse in 2014. It won the NYU symphony space competition. As an experienced classical music listener, Kuo shows a writing style that is highly influenced by those well-known piano concertos from some of the greatest composers in the history such as Chopin, Schumann and etc. The score calls for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, one trumpet, trombone, tuba, timpani, glockenspiel, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, piano (four hands), harp, and strings. The duration of film is about five minutes.

Hui Chen (陳慧) (Production Design) – Memoria de Octavia –  The story of a neuroscientist, Octavia, who came to the United States from Mexico under asylum as a child. Using herself as a test subject, she struggles to erase memories of her past. Inspired by the scientific works of neuroscientist Karim Nader and neuroscientist Joseph Ledoux, the film’s theme centers on the unreliable and intangible nature of memory. The safest memories are the ones that you don’t think about.
Based on the short story, “El dia de los muertos,” written by Stephen Schuyler.‮

Screening B

Chieh Yang (楊婕 )(Directing/Screenwriting)- Starry Eyes (幸運星) – On a not too distant planet called Lucky, each person is fated at birth to be with one particular person. The moment they lock eyes, they will tumble head over heels in love with each other, and will henceforth live happily ever after, with lives filled by unending luck.  Eventually, the “Eyebook” system was invented. People no longer needed to lock eyes with each other face to face. Instead, all they needed to do was to stare tirelessly into a computer screen, and in this way, they were able to find their destined lucky star.

Enoch has spent the majority of his youth searching for Nunu, the girl that he locked eyes with on Eyebook when he was 18 years old. He believes that the moment they meet again, his life will be filled with unending luck from that day onwards.  But in the meantime, he must overcome a cemetery, an eccentric doctor, a disgusting mission, and the memories from Nunu’s childhood that he dreams of each night.

Yi Liu (劉易) (Directing/Screenwriting) D-Day – We follow a group of theatre college kids the night before they have to fight for their graduation positions. D-Day is a military term for the landing of Normandy, used in the present day for the date of executing a mission. In a sense, life in the drama department is pretty much like being in the military. Students are trained to be highly disciplined through impossible scenarios.

D-Day would later gain another saying called, Day of days. Being the drama department, even with all the stress, all the work, everyday something interesting happens. Everyday could be a potential day of days.  In addition to that, DRAMA starts with a D, what better way to describe the days in drama than D-Day?

Ting-Wu Cho (卓庭伍) – The Rope (繩) – A girl wakes up to a world familiar yet strange to her. She follows a woman like Alice follows the rabbit to Wonderland, and sees different people in the city with ropes tied to them. They are happy, indifferent, mournful, or indecipherable. As the girl becomes fascinate with the meaning of the rope, she too becomes a part of the unexplainable world.

Tomorrow Comes Today (你的今天和我的明天) trailer:

 Conspiracy (時下暴力) trailer:

Maquette 1:1000 (我的瑪凱特旅程 ) trailer: