2020 Hualien TIEFF (November 13-20)



The Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival and NDHU’s Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures are happy to announce the Hualien edition of the 2019 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival (TIEFF), the oldest and longest running festival of its kind in Asia, featuring fourteen films specially selected from the 35 films with appeared at last year’s festival in Taipei. Founded in 2001, the biennial festival is Asia’s oldest and longest running international ethnographic film festival. For 18 years TIEFF has served to promote outstanding documentary films from around the world that are innovative, educational, and entertaining. These films, directed by both new and established filmmakers alike, all share a commitment to portraying stories and social practices from around the world in a culturally sensitive way.

This year’s theme

This year’s theme, “Visions of Sovereignty,” explores our relationships with our land, our bodies, and with each other. Moving beyond traditional political-legal notions of the state, “Visions of Sovereignty” is inspired by the work of indigenous activists and scholars who have called into question the idea that sovereign entities are neatly bounded by clearly marked borders, and that everyone within those boundaries is equally beholden to the state. Instead they ask us to look at sovereignty as a process shaped by how we see our world and our unique place within it. Going back to Hobbes the state has long been thought of as a giant person, with the focus on the body’s head, occupied by a king or some other ruler. “Visions of Sovereignty” returns our gaze to the stories of the individual men and women who make up the body of the state, showing how they adapt to, challenge, and sometimes even change the very nature of sovereignty.

Program details

The festival will be held over one week, from Friday November 13th till Friday November 20th. The full schedule is listed below, and will be updated to reflect any changes. Be sure to check back here for updates, or follow the Facebook page to get notifications and other news about the 2020 Hualien edition of TIEFF.

All films are presented with both English and Chinese subtitles, and will be followed by a discussion led by a National Dong Hwa University faculty member. For many films the director will either be present in person, or online for a post-film Q&A. Check the program (below) for details.

All films are free and open to the public, but seating is limited and available on a first-come-first-serve basis. (With the exception of student groups which have made arrangements ahead of time.)


Films will be held either at the Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau (Friday November 13th through Sunday November 15th), or at National Dong Hwa University (NDHU, Wednesday November 18th through Friday November 20th). Specific locations on the NDHU campus are still being arranged. Check the latest version of the program for updates.

– See here for directions to the Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau.
– See here for directions to the NDHU campus.


If you have any questions, please contact 劉尉楷 (Liu Weikai) at dearwakeups at gmail dot com, or message us via the Facebook page.

Friday, November 13, 2020

17:30 screening · Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau
Opening Ceremony and Press Conference
18:10 screening · Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau
82 minutes · With post-film Q&A

Saturday, November 14, 2020

13:30 screening · Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau
77 minutes
15:20 screening · Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau
85 minutes

Island Soldier

Island Soldier interweaves the personal stories of Micronesian soldiers serving in the U.S. military, following their journey from the most remote islands in the Pacific to the front lines of war in Afghanistan, and back again. These non-U.S. citizens are fighting in America’s wars – yet they serve, and die, at five times the rate per capita of their American
18:30 screening · Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau
94 minutes · With post-film Q&A

Sunday, November 15, 2020

13:30 screening · Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau
83 minutes · With post-film Q&A
16:00 screening · Hualien County Cultural Affairs Bureau
90 minutes · With post-film Q&A

Heartbound-A Different Kind of Love Story

An epic drama on cross-cultural marriages between Thai women and Danish fishermen, co-directed by Janus Metz (Armadillo, True Detective, Borg Vs Mc Enroe). Over a decade the directors follow four couples as they struggle to find a way out of poverty and loneliness and see their children grow up to heap the seeds or pay the price of their mothers

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

12:10 screening · Dong Hwa University
55 minutes · With post-film Q&A
14:10 screening · Dong Hwa University
59 minutes · With post-film Q&A

Muakai’s Wedding

In 1932, Muakai from the Zingrur royal family of the Kaviyangan village was accessioned into the Taihoku imperial University (former name of the National Taiwan University, abbr. NTU) and stood silently in the corner of the Museum of Anthropology. Considering to applying for the National Treasure, Professor Chia-yu Hu of NTU went back to village since 2014 and discussed related
21:10 screening · Dong Hwa University
88 minutes · With post-film Q&A

The Feather Headdress of Ceroh

According to Indigenous elders, the process of standing up for tests to win the qualification to wear the feather headdress is a symbol of becoming a man (Tamdaw) for the Pangcah people of Taiwan. The process of qualification has changed over time in recent days due to the lost of traditional environment and lifestyle.

32KM, 60 years

After being abandoned for nearly seven decades, the old tribal village is difficult to reach with almost no roads leading to it. The only guide on our journey in search of our roots is Wilang, who drags his octogenarian body up the mountain. As we follow Wilang’s footsteps, we travel a tunnel back in time…

Thursday, November 19, 2020

14:10 screening · Dong Hwa University
84 minutes · With post-film Q&A
21:10 screening · Dong Hwa University
75 minutes

Friday, November 20, 2020

14:10 screening · Dong Hwa University
86 minutes · With post-film Q&A
21:10 screening · Dong Hwa University
87 minutes · With post-film Q&A

Tribal Justice

Tribal Justice is a feature documentary about a little known, underreported but effective criminal justice reform movement in America today: the efforts of tribal courts to create alternative justice systems based on their traditions. In California, the state with the largest number of Indian people and tribes, two formidable Native American women are among those leading the way. Abby Abinanti,