Taiwan Film Festival UK 2020

The Taiwan film festival is back for part 2 this year and will take place at the Rio Cinema in Dalston and online. We talk to director and curator, Aephie Chen about what is has been like organising a film festival in a pandemic and how Taiwan’s handling of Covid has affected their film industry.

The Age of Awakening – Dir. Ke Chin-yuan

The Taiwan film festival will be taking place at the Rio Cinema from the 28th of November with live screenings and a series of in-person and virtual events throughout the festival. What have been the challenges of putting on a festival in a pandemic? What kind of extra covid measures did you have to put in place in order to make it happen?

We’ve worked closely with Rio Cinema to adapt to the COVID measures. From our personal experience, people who have gone to the cinema during these past months, have been really supportive and want to keep cinema – and film – alive. They all wear masks and keep socially distant. Of course, for the physical screenings at the upcoming Festival, ticket numbers will be limited to ensure people are able to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.

Rio Cinema has also agreed to start live screenings at 15.30 each afternoon to allow visitors to travel safely to and from the cinema and be home in time for any curfews that might be in place. Viewers can see the full Festival schedule, link to purchase tickets for online and live events, and follow any changes via our website.

Unfortunately, as well as shifting schedules, COVID has also impacted our funding sources. Due to the changing dates and economic uncertainties, we have lost some of our sponsors. As a supporter of the arts and developing artists, we do not believe in relying on volunteers – everyone gets paid.

The majority of our team are freelancers, many of whom have been working non-stop since March to keep things moving and bring the Festival to UK audiences.

As curator, this means I have to insist especially in this difficult pandemic year, that we keep the Festival running so the team can get paid for their time. If I cancelled or postponed until next year, the existing grants and sponsors we still have would be lost and we’d need to start again from scratch.To help cover the shortfall, we are planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign alongside the second chapter of our programme on 28th November, so be sure to watch this space.

Tell us more about the programming and the films which will be featured

Following on from part 1 of the Taiwan Film Festival which took place in March 2020, we are now back with the second chapter of the festival and will focus on the theme of ‘Wounded yet Healed’. There will be six feature-length documentaries with themes that include the struggle for democracy and freedom of speech, protesting industrialisation, and giving voice to the climate crisis.

The Taiwan Film Festival is FilmTaiwan’s effort to showcase the talented and distinct cinematic voice of Taiwan through a programme of classic and new independent films. It also aims to provide opportunities for Taiwanese filmmakers and producers to showcase their works to UK and Nordic distributors with the goal of creating interactions between the countries. Full programme can be found here.

We have been hearing over here in the UK that Taiwan has done an excellent job of handling the crisis. Has this meant that film productions are well under way for 2020 & 2021?

The film productions in Taiwan were impacted by the COVID-19 during the first half of 2020, but things are gradually back to normal now. There were also films had scheduled to shoot overseas but they had to move back to Taiwan due to the pandemic. 

The Price of Democracy – Dir Liao Jian-Hua & Prod. Jewel Lai

The government in the UK has pledged a £1.57bn package in July to support cultural, arts and heritage institutions. Has there been something similar offered for the arts in Taiwan? 

Yes, the Ministry of Culture has offered NTD47.2 million (roughly about GBP£ 1.26 million) to be used for salaries, working capital etc.   

This is called the UK & Nordic festival ? Where else will you be planning to take the festival after London? Any plans for 2021 yet? 

Yes! We are the Taiwan Film Festival UK & Nordic. In addition to the yearly festival in the UK, we travel to one Nordic country every year. We were the first Asian film festival in Iceland in 2019. due to the crisis, we couldn’t go to Norway this year but we plan to launch the Taiwan Film Festival Norway next year.

For full programme details please visit https://filmtaiwan.org/taiwan-film-festival-uk-2020-part-2/ and watch all the trailers here.

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