Review: Family Variations: The Communication of Images Across Class, Gender, and Cultural Lines

Lin, Wen-Ling

Festival Director

(translated by Chris Findler)

The 2005 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival (TIEFF) is being held with the goals of using images to popularize ethnography and to educate the viewers about this intriguing subject. This year, we continue in the spirit of past festivals in our planning and implementation to achieve the objective of using the media of film to introduce and further understand the people and cultures of our world. In order to make the viewings and resulting discussions have a cohesive direction, the third biennial Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival has the theme of “Family Variations.”

The theme of “Family Variations” was chosen because, from the past to the present, most cultures have relied on the family to give organization to their societies. Relationships created through blood, marriage, or geography are the most important factors that connect groups of people. In order to understand the societal construction in any location, you must start with the individuals and their relationships with others. Especially within family structure and marriage, you must recognize how individuals and the group associate with each other in order to maintain organization and achieve the goals of that society.

This year’s film festival gathers together films from all parts the world that all depict many facets of the family and its individual members.

Under the “Family Variations” theme there are four subprograms, which include “Director Spotlight,” “Other Families,” “Alternative Families,” and “Diversity and Family”

Director Spotlight

This program focuses on three prominent and well-known directors of ethnographic films who all shot outstanding documentaries about the form and composition of the family. These directors will guide us with their works into the heart of this year’s theme. The three directors are the Australian husband and wife team David and Judith MacDougall, and the American director John Marshall who sadly passed away on April 22 of this year.

In this year’s festival we would like to present two of the films from the MacDougall’s 1970s Turkana Trilogy, introducing the Turkana people of Kenya and their polygamous culture, and Judith MacDougal’s film about the Aboriginal funeral rites in Australia’s Aurukun Shire.

The MacDougall’s films, Lorang’s Way and A Wife among Wives, investigate how the Turkana people’s society adapted to natural, geographic and societal conditions to develop a polygamous marriage structure, where men take several wives. Here, the meaning of “family” is not simply the family unit most are accustomed to; it binds together gender roles, relations within a marriage, and religious faith. The family group is also further affected by government, economics and societal factors.

In Judith MacDougall’s film, The House-Opening, the narrator is Geraldine Kawangka, a recently widowed woman. Through Geraldine’s eyes, the viewer is guided through a ceremony held by her family, extended relations and friends to purify the deceased man’s soul, and as a result also brings cohesion back to her clan.

In the unit dedicated to director John Marshall, we are proud to be able to present the films “A Far Country” and “End of the Road” from the Five Part “A Kalahari Family” film series he completed in 2002 and his short but vivacious film, “A Joking Relationship.”

In 1951, John’s father brought a research team and his son and daughter to the region called Nyae Nyae in the north of South Africa’s Kalahari Desert. There, they encountered a tribe of Bushmen: ≠Oma Tsamkxao and his band who called themselves the Ju/’hoansi. From 1952 to 1962, John and his family followed the lives of ≠Oma Tsamkxao and his tribe. In those five years, the Marshalls and the Ju/’hoansi established a remarkable friendship. By the 1980s John had become even more deeply involved in the Ju/’hoansi people’s political fight for the survival of their culture. The Marshall family’s first contact with ≠Oma Tsamkxao and his band in the 50s not only changed the lives of most members of both of the groups, but their meeting influenced the future of the entire Ju/’hoansi tribe.

Other Families

What exactly is “family”? The meaning, composition and form of the family are influenced by the characteristics of location, history and society, which lead to the development of varied and divergent forms of marriage.

The top prize in the 1990 Royal Anthropological Institute, Manchester Film Festival was awarded to The Memoirs of Bindute Da filmed by two French scholars, Michele Fieloux and Jacques Lombard. The film depicts in detail how the recently deceased Bindute Da’s nineteen wives along with his sons adhere to tradition by holding two funeral ceremonies for their departed husband and father. The other film in this series is Petr Lom’s Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan and as the title states, it shows how men in that country literally take young women off of the street to become their wives. Of those girls who are “chosen,” some tearfully struggle against their prospective husband, others try to reason with him, while some, in the end, simply nod their agreement.

These two films in the “Other Families” program focus on the customs and traditions of other cultures to explain the characteristics of marriage, family and social groups of these different societies.

Alternative Families

The nuclear family has now become the prevalent marriage system and building block of most societies. Although it is a system built upon the foundation of one husband and one wife, in reality the family is closely connected with all types of systems in our modern society. For example, the ability to procreate and rules surrounding inheritance and succession also affect the form of the family. A family’s living arrangements also are affected by these rules and relations between the genders within a society.

As a result of changes within society, we gradually begin to see the occurrence of non-traditional family structures such as interracial, intercultural and intergenerational marriages and single parent families. Because of new ideas and freer attitudes towards gender, homosexual family groups are also more common.

A gay couple has always yearned to raise a child together. When the time is right, they use the Internet to find a surrogate mother to realize their dream. The film, Paternal Instinct chronicles the lives of these two men in New York in their quest to have a child and shouldering the responsibility of bringing up their new daughter. Mit Koran und greller Schminke/Transsexuelle in Pakistan, produced by Germany’s NDR Television, follows the lives of the Pakistani Khusras, a group that cannot be classified as either male or female in the traditional sense. They leave their families and come together to create their own cross-gender family group, looking after and taking care of one another.

Another film, directed by Mickey Chen, The Scars on Memory, is an account of loss, as a middle aged Taiwanese gay man finds himself suddenly without his partner. He looks back at his past and harbors a pain in his heart that cannot be concealed. However, surrounded and comforted by the warm company of his friends, he again has a feeling of being home.

Girls to Mothers draws attention to adolescent girls in Nicaragua who face the unplanned birth of a child. In poverty and without the support or help from the father, what is the future for these uneducated young mothers and their children? The experiences of these Nicaraguan girls are common to innumerable other young women from all over the world. The phenomenon of adolescent girls taking on the responsibility of bringing a child into the world alone is disturbingly common, and many children are not afforded the luxury of two parents sharing the responsibility for the family that is stressed in most cultures.

Sung Ming-Chieh’s Hey Jimmy is a short 15 minute film about Jimmy, born of an African-American and Taiwanese mixed race relationship, and how he lives as a drag queen in Taiwan, revealing how his vitality can shine through under the intense pressures of race, gender and social status

Diversity and Family

In Taiwanese society, cases of domestic violence are often seen in the media. In this year’s festival, we present a more personal look at this tragedy in the Norwegian film My Beloved Child. It chronicles the incest case that shocked the country and the difficulties faced by the abused girl, now a woman, as she tries to move on from her stolen childhood and function as a wife and mother. The film is narrated by the woman herself, whose calm voice, intermittently flushed with emotion, leaves the viewer moved.

Also from Norway, the documentary Forever Yours is about the differences between in one grandmother’s own recollection of her lost love and the actual reality. The grandmother’s perfect love for her deceased husband and everlasting yearning begin to show cracks when her granddaughter looks abroad to discover what exactly happened to her grandfather. In The Perfect Dream the focus is turned to the foreign youth who migrate alone to Germany with no home or final destination. In their travels, they meet up with others in their situation to form their own “families.” The film was directed by and portrays the young people themselves, depicting their everyday life and their thoughts and expectations about the concept of family.

Living With Chimpanzees: Portrait of a Family makes the viewer realize that chimpanzees are not just pets living with a family, but are actual full-fledged members. A Hospice in Amsterdam shows us the loving care extended to the elderly and terminally ill in their last days at a hospice created by neighbors and friends.

In the film Children by Remote Control we meet a Thai family, separated when the parents travel to Israel to become laborers while the children remain in Thailand. The family relies on international phone calls to maintain their relationship. The film was directed by Israelis who followed Thai laborers in Israel and their return to their home towns. The viewer can deeply feel the laborers emotions living in a foreign land and a mother’s loss at having no choice but to leave her children behind. Taiwan can use this film as a mirror, to take a good look at itself and the situation of the foreign workers here. We can empathize more with the workers’ experiences and the recent protests and see this film as a tool to learn how to become a better host to these workers.

In comparison to the Thai workers who leave their homeland to sell their labor, Wu Ping-Hai’s films Shei-Ting and Her Song and They Came from Overseas to Make a Home are more like stories of dandelions spreading their seeds and taking root. Shei-Ting is from Meizhou in mainland China. The year she turned 27, she met Mr. Chen, a matchmaker from Meinong. Within a week she had agreed to marry a Taiwanese man and immigrate to Taiwan. After arriving here, she began a life that even she could not have imagined; one more difficult than she had ever experienced in her village in China. “They Came from Overseas to Make a Home” chronicles a group of Southeast Asian women who also arrived in Taiwan as brides. Although they came from different cultural backgrounds, their same fate brought them together. They created the TransAsia Sisters Association, rewriting the meaning of family in Taiwan.

The films chosen for the “Family Variations” series give the viewer an international perspective and use images to interpret how people in different places under different historical conditions and social environments develop varied family (or clan) structures, inter-family relationships and marital and extended familial systems. The films also discuss how having the two sexes as the foundation of society create bonds among people and the basic social environment among different groups and in different places around the world.

We hope to using the theme of “family” and related metaphors: the household, family members and one’s roots to show how these many facets of the family create boundaries, limits and paths for both individuals and groups. Additionally, the films also explore how the family itself changes and transforms under the influence of globalization, relocation, immigration and multi-nationalism.

In addition to “Family Variation” the festival also offers the “New Vision” series. This collection of films contains outstanding documentaries from around the world produced within the last two years. You can look forward to enjoying stories from different viewpoints, perspectives, time periods and frames of mind. This series includes the three programs “Indigenous Perspectives,” “Human Rights and Autonomy,” and “Migration and Settlement.”

Indigenous Perspectives

In the process of globalization, the native peoples in all parts of the world bear the imprint of time and scars caused by world’s development. In The People of Angkor, the director’s highly skilled hands guide us through the lives of people of differing fates, who meet and interact at this remote relic. Through many years of hardship, every tile and every brick of the ancient city is entwined with stories of suffering and hope, past and present, the heavenly and the human.

Thinking of the village of Inukjuak in the frozen North of Canada, the image of the ancient culture of the Eskimo people may come to mind. However, in the film Inuuvunga: I am Inuk I am Alive, a young man picks up a video camera to film himself and the family and friends around him, interviewing his elders about the many facets and varieties of their people’s traditions.

These teenagers whoop and speed along on their snowmobiles, making tracks through the frozen tundra, just like their Taiwanese counterparts race in their cars, leaving tire marks on the highway like they too are saying, “I am alive!”

Betelnut Bisnis tells the story of the betel nut in Papua New Guinea, were the small, narcotic seeds of the betel palm are closely bound to the people’s everyday lives. To many families, the betel nut has always held a special place in their culture and even today the betel nut maintains an important role in economic life, as a key source of income to maintain the family livelihood. The locals’ dependency on the betel nut is reminiscent of Taiwan, where the people’s passion for the betel nut has not been diminished despite the government’s education program warning of the seed’s carcinogenic properties.

In Trakis na bnkis director Baunay˙Watan and his people, the Taya, use the traditional methods of cultivating millet to search for the traces of their ancestors, hoping that the vanished culture of millet can be reincorporated into modern life.

The Solicitude for the Takasago Volunteer by Watan and Oloh discusses the over 90 year old Tomohide Kadowaki who forged strong relationships with the surviving members of the Takasago Volunteers, made up of Taiwanese Aborigines who fought for Japan in WWII, during his many visits to Taiwan. In the current state politics in Taiwan, with strident opposition between supporters of independence and reunification, between friends and critics of Japan, how can these former soldiers for Japan who then suffered under the cold war and colonization find their own voice?

Kimbo, the godfather of Taiwanese Aboriginal folk music, was not only a musical pioneer, but in the whirlwind of democratic freedom that enveloped Taiwan, he was able to use his songs to convey the plight of the nation’s aborigines. Halugu and Kaleh’s film Kimbo in a Flash , traces the footsteps of the early generation of the Aboriginal movement and concludes with Kimbo finally releasing his first solo album, for which this film was named.

Dhakiyarr vs. the King similarly describes how aborigines and majority ethnic groups interact and the friction that sometimes develops between the two. It chronicles the mysterious disappearance of an Australian aborigine, Dhakiyarr, after he was convicted of the murder of a white constable. Seventy years later, his descendents attempt to clear their forefather of this crime and return to him his wrongly besmirched honor. The film also discusses the relations between, two families, one white and one aboriginal, living in two different cultures with two different value systems. How can these two families, and whites and aborigines in general, face the conflict and injustices of 70 years ago and ultimately reconcile in the present?

Human Rights and Autonomy

How do people within in their own homeland interact and to what level can they live in harmony and strike compromises with each other? The Indian film Final Solution documents the violence in 2002 between the Hindus and Muslims and ensuing massacre in Gujarat caused by political and religious disagreements. The film probes how different groups used politics to work against each other and consequentially, how those groups were no longer able to live peaceably together. The institutionalized hatred that it catalyzed created huge changes in the interactions between the different groups and the society as a whole.

Sometimes, however, people living within their own community also are unable to completely to put into practice their beliefs or preferred lifestyle. The film What Remains of Us chronicles Kalsang Dolma, a Canadian of Tibetan heritage, who from 1996 to 2004 crossed through the Himalayas into Tibet several times, facing danger in her quest to broadcast a tape of information that the Dalai Lama wanted to communicate to his people. The camera is fixed on the Tibetan people as they are absorbed in the words of their spiritual leader. Their expression of true emotion and reactions at the moment of viewing makes this film extremely moving and poetic. Perhaps if a camera was turned on the viewers of What Remains of Us, which touches on homeland and exile, religion and politics, human rights and hope, we could see a another example of the effect a poignant film can have on its audience.

Lin Li-Fang’s Buddha’s Sons films a young lama at the Mirk Monastery Temple high in the Himalayas following his teacher, Lama Chinlek, learning from him how to become a good lama. The film opens a window onto the young man’s life as he studies at the temple, his happiness and tears, his return home during the New Year holiday and the short, valuable time he shares with his mother and father.

One of the opening films of this year’s festival is 62 Years and 6500 Miles Between by Anita Wen-Shin Chang. Through her grandmother’s eyes she tells story of Taiwan’s democratic development and examines the complicated situation today created by fractious relations between groups with differing backgrounds and other historical and political factors. Chang’s grandmother uses expressive and fluid Taiwanese to vividly describe her experiences. Especially after watching her dramatic recounting of the February 28th incident, the audience is infused with courage and hope for the future.

In this program we also present another Norwegian film, Easy Life. It examines FTM (female to male) transgender individuals and how they, using their physical body, gender identity, social safety and everyday life, pursue their goal of becoming a normal citizen with totally equal rights. Between the possibility and impossibility of achieving this goal, the film probes the important issue of human rights for transsexual individuals within their own homeland and community.

Migration and Settlement

In this program we are exposed to the diversity that exists within Taiwan itself, the various social systems and multi-faceted lifestyles that have developed through the intersections between its past and present inhabitants. After the KMT government’s arrival on Taiwan, soldiers who had fought the Communist Party in China and then had to make a new life on this island are the subject of Hu Tai-Li’s Stone Dream. Farmers in the City by Hung Chun-Hsiu chronicles farmers living and tilling the soil in Taipei’s Beitou district. Other than the hard work of cultivation, they must also face the effects of the developing capital city on their farming lifestyle. The Story of Wai San Ding Island directed by Hung-Zhou Je  documents the inhabitants of a sandbar and how their lives and outlooks change as their home slowly begins to erode away.

The “Family Variations” and “New Vision” series in this year’s festival use the medium of film to convey cross-cultural perspectives and to explain how varying historical conditions and social environments cause groups of people from different lands to develop their own distinct lifestyles and cultural perspectives. These films were chosen for the 2005 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival with the purpose of breaking through the barriers of race, class, and gender, in order to better connect with the world’s plethora of cultures.

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Review: Family Variations~The Wonders of the Ethnographic Film Festival~Introduction

by Hu, Tai- Li

(President, Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival)

“Everyone is searching for home sweet home. Should I be any different?” asks aboriginal folk singer Kimbo in the documentary “Kimbo in a Flash” by Taiwan Public Television aboriginal reporters Halugu and Kaleh. Hearing my old friend Kimbo talk about the many setbacks and difficulties in his life, I almost burst into tears.

Family is the undeniable basic building block of human society. The common conception of a family is of one man and one woman who marry and have children. However, if you take a broader view of the whole world, the incarnations of the family are profuse and varied. They challenge our preconceptions of what it means to be a family.

Continuing the themes of earlier years, “Island Odyssey” in 2001 and “Migration Stories” in 2003, this year’s Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival has selected the theme of “Family Variations.” Through films from diverse cultures, the audience can come in contact with and experience the essence of different kinds of families and to ponder the true meaning of family. Below, I have chosen just a few from this year’s selected films as examples of “Family Variations.”

◎ Hunter-Gatherer and Polygynous Herding Families

In the history of ethnographic film, an important and touching encounter of two families occurred in 1951. The Marshall family of Boston traveled to the Kalahari Desert in the west of South Africa, where they met a hunter-gatherer tribe of Bushmen headed by ≠Oma Tsamkxao. John, the 18 year old son in the family, using a video camera that his father had given to him as a gift, began to record this group that had previously been seen as extremely primitive and mysterious. Along the way, he also learned their language.

In 1958, South Africa’s government denied John Marshall entry into the country. He was then separated from ≠Oma Tsamkxao and his community until he was finally allowed to return in 1978. What he found upon his return was startlingly different from previous years. Much of the Bushmen’s land had been taken over by the government and they were moved to a settlement called Tshumkwe and thus stopped their traditional hunter and gatherer life.

Marshall’s films continued to document the lives of ≠Oma Tsamkxao’s family and in 2002 he finally completed his five part “A Kalahari Family” film series that illustrates the changes that occurred over that half century of contact. John Marshall sadly passed away this April 22 of lung cancer. As a remembrance of the man and his contributions to the field of ethnographic film, we are showing two of the five films from his series and also the early short film, “A Joking Relationship.”

How do societies that are based on polygynous marriages operate? The famous husband and wife ethnographic filmmaking team, David and Judith MacDougall, investigate this very question. They lead the viewers into the world of the Turkana, semi-nomadic herders of northwestern Kenya, and explore their polygynous families. In one of their films of the “Turkana Conversations” trilogy, “A Wife Among Wives,” a Turkana man matter-of-factly states, “It’s customary for us to have five wives. A man with one wife is not considered married. He’s called ‘one-vagina. He’s useless.” Th women would complain, “Who will look after the animals all? She might tend the camels…but not the goats…, goats but not camels. Who would build fences? Who would water livestock? Who will do these things?” Wives actively search for additional wives with whom they can share this work.

◎Transsexual and Homosexual Families

For those who do not identify with the physiological classifications that society imposes upon them, the idea of marrying someone of the opposite sex is a very distressing thought. In the Islamic nation of Pakistan, there is a small group made up of men who, while physically male, mentally see themselves as women. There is nothing to distinguish them from women, neither their dress and appearance nor their mannerisms. They come together to form families, which, in turn, make up a larger social group. In this kind of family, with one of the older members playing the role of mother and teacher. The members of the family also do not have sexual relations with one another. In the film “Koran und greller Schminke/Transsexuelle in Pakistan,” we can see how their culture accepts and respects these transgendered individuals. Their main occupation is as dancers at birthday and wedding celebrations and they are thought to bring joy and blessings to the partygoers.

Mickey Chen, in his film “Scars on Memory,” explores the extreme sadness of A-long, a gay man, whose dream of living as a family with his partner A-yen is shattered by A-yen’s death. A-long tells A-yen’s sisters, “Today I would like to thank all of you for being able to accept me. I have been warmed by my contact with your family.” The end is bittersweet; through this tragedy, those who were left behind can come together to form a family.

Can two men start a family and give birth to children? “Paternal Instinct” is a film that gives a vibrant real-life example. Mark and Erik are a couple who plan to use artificial insemination to have a child. They find a surrogate mother through the Internet, who gives birth to their two daughters, first Mark’s then Erik’s. Although they have realized their dream, what kind of moral and legal issues does this method of giving birth and creating a family bring up?

◎ Scarred and Atypical Families

Of the films selected for this year’s festival, the one that was most unforgettable and painful for me was “My Beloved Child.” Family photos appear on the screen, but the father’s face is always cut out of the movie frame. He is a faceless father, whose daughter still carries the scars on her body and soul that he inflicted upon her. This Norwegian documentary examines a tragedy of domestic violence and incest and the ensuing case of patricide. It uses exquisite and ingenious ways to uncover the scars and give the viewer a direct look at a dark side of family.

Families can also be harmed when they come in contact with groups other than their own. The film “Dhakiyarr vs. the King” recounts the story of an Australian Aborigine leader who kills a white constable on aboriginal territory. He is imprisoned and put on trial, but no one knows his ultimate fate. His family is deeply traumatized by his disappearance. Even more disturbing, since his body was never found, his descendants cannot carry out the traditional funeral ceremony and are thereby prevented from returning the power and wisdom of his soul to his people. Seventy years later, a white and aboriginal family search for the path to reconciliation.

What does family mean to young girls who themselves give birth to children? In the Nicaraguan film “Girls to Mothers,” I can see the bewilderment and hesitation in the eyes of the still immature young mothers and fathers when faced with the new life they have brought into the world. At the end of the film,an astonishing fact appears on the screen, “Every day an average of 400 children are born in Nicaragua, 100 of them to adolescent mothers.”

The subjects of the films “Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan” and “Living with Chimpanzees: Portrait of a Family” are quite unusual and a bit difficult to categorize. In the countryside near Kyrgyzstan’s borders with Russia and China, one out of every three girls is kidnapped to become a bride. A woman in the film says, “Get kidnapped, accept it and then move on, that encapsulates our lives. We will slowly get accustomed to each other and our love will grow over time.”

A wholly different kind of family develops when an American couple adopts two chimpanzees. In “Living with Chimpanzees: Portrait of a Family,” the wife says, “On the one hand, they’re incredibly wonderful, affectionate creatures. And they’re just like we are. And on the other hand, they can be very unpredictable. Because they’re so strong, they can also be very dangerous and they are considered to be wild animals.” The funny and heartwarming relationship between these chimpanzees and their “parents” is truly amazing.

◎ Families in Motion, Families at Rest

Taiwan continually produces families made up of new immigrants together with the island’s earlier inhabitants. In his films “Shei-Ting and Her Song” and “They Came from Overseas to Make a Home,” Ping-Hai Wu records the lives of recent immigrant brides from Mainland China and Southeast Asia. Shei-Ting, who married a farmer in Meinung, sighs, “I got married and came over here. I have a family now and I’ve got to face the fact that things are going to be difficult. There was no way that I would just arrive here and live the good life, even I knew that.” A foreign bride studying at Yongho Community College said, “The biggest difficulty for us is that when we arrive in Taiwan we cannot communicate with our mother-in-law, our new family members. Every day at home we just cry and cry.” Immigrants face difficulties in adjusting to a new culture and being torn emotionally between their old and new families. My film “Stone Dream” describes a veteran, Liu Bi-chia, who came with the KMT to Taiwan from China. Following the death of his wife, he agitates to return to the mainland. His adopted daughter comforts him and strongly pleads for him to stay. Her emotions are indisputably genuine when she says, “He keeps saying he wants to settle there. This is also his home, I don’t approve of his going back. Your children are all here, if you go back, you’ll be alone there. How can we not worry about you? ” Viewers are left visibly moved by her sincere concern.

“A Hospice in Amsterdam,” as the title states, is about a hospice in the Netherlands that has been designed as a tranquil home for terminally ill patients. It is different from a hospice located in a regular hospital; it is meant to be a home for the ailing. With its living room, dining room and warm and spacious kitchen, it is a comfortable place for both the patients and their visiting families and friends. The doctors, nurses, and volunteers are still always near to help, so the patients can get the care that they need. This homelike hospice can relieve pressures on both the patient and their relatives would feel if the ill person were to live at home. It causes us viewers to deeply ponder the true meaning of home and family.

◎ Filming the Filmmaker’s Own Family

This year’s festival both opens and closes with a film by a granddaughter about her grandmother. Sometimes when documentary filmmakers point the lens at their own families, they get bogged down in small details. However, these two films use the family’s own story to tell a much more universal one. Anita Wen-Shin Chang, who grew up in the United States, returns to Taiwan in her film, “62 Years and 6500 Miles Between.” Chang’s aunt helped her own mother, Chang’s nearly 100 year-old grandmother, to write a chronicle of her life, recording all of the changes she experienced over the decades of her life and her struggle for democracy. Through old films of her grandmother paired with communication between herself, her mother and grandmother, who suffered a debilitating stroke, the director traces the interlaced history of a woman, a family and a nation, while also searching for her own identity. In the film, with trembling hands, her grandmother writes out the two Chinese characters for “peace,” her deepest hope for Taiwan.

“Forever Yours” is a romance born of the turmoil of war. The director finds a short piece of film footage of her grandmother as a young woman. She always happily tells her own love story, “It was then that I met and fell deeply in love with your grandfather. My fate was sealed.” However, during the Second World War, before their eldest son was born, her grandfather was sent to a labor camp and was never heard from again. The director tries to track down any trace of her grandfather and finds clues that he might have lived in Bombay, India. Her grandmother wants nothing of it and will not accept any evidence that she may have been abandoned. The love and trust she feels for the man cannot be diminished. In her grandmother’s heart, her memories are far more precious than reality. As a matter of fact, all family types revealed in this film festival yearn for love and happiness. The idea of “home sweet home” is one that cannot be defeated.

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