As the film begins, one Orchid Islander says, “I often feel that the more research anthropologists do on this island, the worse the island is harmed…” This work is the visual anthropologist’s recorded answer to this question.
The film director tries to use the camera to explore the disillusionment and frustration of the Tao people. She moves between the islanders and outsiders, using people of three identities and three appearances to reflect on the contradictions and conflict that follows with the meeting of the Tao people and external influences.
Fear of tourists? In the first part we observe Tao opposition to the spectators’ cameras and the perception and requirements of money. Fear of evil ghosts? The second part reveals a Bunun who volunteered as a medical doctor to serve in Orchid Island telling of his own inherent doubts and reveals the worries and frustrations vis-à-vis modern medical concepts and local traditional beliefs. Fear of the nuclear waste plant? In the third part two young local nuclear protesters face the camera directly and tell their personal reasons for their actions. They speak of their own special way of life and the threat of its destruction.
Hu Tai-Li is currently a research fellow and documentary filmmaker at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica in Taiwan; a concurrent professor at National Chin-Hua University, and the president of Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival. After graduating from the History Department of the National Taiwan University, she entered the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, and obtained her Ph.D. degree in anthropology. She has directed and produced eight documentary films (The Return of Gods and Ancestors, Songs of Pasta’ay, Voices of Orchid Island, Passing Through My Mother-in-law’s Village, Sounds of Love and Sorrow, Encountering Jean Rouch, Stone Dream, After Passing, and Returning Souls).