City of Memories

“City of Memories” depicts the lives of elderly people living in a Taipei nursery home: their agony, longing and loneliness. Images of winterly Taipei, with its drizzling rain and gloomy sky, reflect these aged women’s fading mind. In the midst of all the suffering, the women’s ballad singing and story telling bring back the emotional memories of their love lives. These women are trapped in the place where dreams and reality intertwine, and retrospection is their way to hold on to the eternity of love.

“City of Memories” is the third film in the tetralogy “The Realm of Womenhood”, after “Where is My Home?” and “The Ballads of Grandmothers”.

The Gangster’s God

Every Lantern Festival in eastern Taiwan, a group of men strips bare above the waist, and wearing nothing but red shorts, stands on a sacred palanquin, allowing people to pound their bodies with bottlerockets, singeing their skin. They are believed to be human incarnations of the god Handan. The “Scorching of Handan” has in recent years become a major event in eastern Taiwan – Taidong. Those who take part in the ritual have always been shrouded in mystery, and rumored to be members of the gangster underworld.

The film delves deeply into the local underworld community of Taidong..The reason these three underworld members play the role of “living Handans” is to serve the true god in heaven. Some hope to extricate themselves from the life of the Taiwanese underworld; others are learning how to enter into it. Some have worked as hit men. Some still work as strongmen collecting debts. They have all served time in prison, and have committed various crimes. Through this ritual, we can witness the rules and relationships within this small underworld community, as well as the different values that different generations hold toward popular religious beliefs.

I Am in a Hand Puppet Troupe

“Chiao Wan Jan”, the children hand puppet troupe established in 1988, is sited at Ping-Deng Elementary School, a mini school just has one hundred more students, located on Yang-Ming Mount., Taipei. Tu- Deng Yueh-Sheng is a Tibetan girl who spent three years to practice and overcome language barrier, now she is on stage to be a female hand puppet performer. She and her puppets become good friends and travel around Taiwan to perform. No matter she is the leading character of the troupe or not, Yueh-Sheng says: “It’s wounderful to learn how to perform hand puppets”. There are so many interesting and amusing circumstances in this film.

Plant Wars

No plant in the world is exotic. For the plants, we are foreign. The theme of Plant Wars concerns ‘exotic’ plants, ‘indigenous’ plants, ‘special’ plants and battles among them, as well as some of our ‘imaginations’ over the battles. Among the people in the stories, some climb the trees, some sing, some miss their deceased espouses, some live by the plants, some talk to the leaves, some grow trees, some hack trees and some cannot find a proper identify of community. Some of the battles are visible, yet more are invisible. We cannot recall their names. It is not because they are too foreign but they are too familiar. Not because they are too far, but too close.

Amis Hip Hop

Amis Hip Hop documents how a group of young Amis men in A’tolan have blended influences from contemporary social and cultural life in Taiwan with their traditional practice of ritual dance performance in the village. Rooted in the Amis ethos of respect for male age-grade organization, matrilineal affiliation, intimacy with the ocean, and appreciation of joking relationships, these young men also blend in elements of foreign fashion in music and dance all while keeping with traditional village aesthetics. Through their performances, they represent a new image to both locals and outsiders, and actively construct their local identity as A’tolan Amis.