Martial Law and After: Reflection of the 30th Anniversary of the End of the Martial Law in Taiwan Cinema

Martial Law and After: Reflection of the 30th Anniversary of the End of the Martial Law in Taiwan Cinema

The full impact of Martial Law was not immediately felt in Taiwan after its lifting in 1987. To some Taiwanese, especially those whose loved ones and family members had been jailed, killed, or simply disappeared, the 40-plus years of living under Martial Law was like a nightmare. Their only hope was daybreak, when they could finally wake up and leave the nightmare behind.

However, the repression and abuse people suffered under Martial Law lingers on those who survived, and only after a number of years can they vent their emotions and express the anguish and the suffering they endured during the era through cinema. 

This category of films includes ones directly confronting the taboo issue of the February 28th Incident, such as City of Sadness, but there are even more films about those who were deeply wounded in body and soul. Some of the survivors can still feel the pain today.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the lifting of Martial Law and Taiwan’s march toward democracy. Now is the right time to reveal “those who were left” and “those who come later” in films. Films chosen for this program cover the past three decades of Taiwan cinema and reflect upon those whose lives are directly or indirectly affected by the Martial Law and its passing. They include: Chinese veterans stranded in Taiwan after 1949, political prisoners of the White Terror period in the 1950s, aboriginals working in the big city, and progressive students participating in social movements, to name a few. The films draw from a spectrum of different groups of people living in Taiwan. At the same time, their lives represent another turbulent era as Taiwan transitioned into a democratic and globalized nation. The films listed below address this issue.

Curators: Ru-Shou Robert CHEN, Professor of Dept. of Radio-TV at National Chengchi University, and Chun-chi WANG, Associate Professor of English Department, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan.

Connection by Fate 超級公民

WAN Jen/ 1998/ 113min

Ma Le, a young aboriginal man, came to Taipei alone to earn a living on construction sites. However, unable to bear the exploitation, Ma Le accidentally killed a site superintendent and was sentenced to death. A-Te, a taxi driver used to be a social movement fanatic, gave Ma Le a ride in his taxi on the night that Ma Le committed the killing and their two fates were thereafter intertwined.

Sept. 27, 12:30 pm

Hunter College; Hunter West Building, Chanin Center Insdorf Screening Room, RM B126 (Basement level, located at the intersection of East 68th street and Lexington Ave., New York)

*Followed by a panel discussion with the director, curators, moderated by Fang Dai, Associate Professor of Dept. of Classical and Oriental Studies, Hunter College and Joel Zuker, Professor of Dept. of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College

RSVP required: flagship@hunter.cuny.edu  (Please bring photo ID to check in)

 

Wawa No Cidal 太陽的孩子

CHENG Yu-chieh, Lekal Sumi/ 2015/ 99min

Panay worked in the city as a journalist. One day, she found her tribe had been overdeveloped and changed by tourism. They were losing their land and their culture, so she decided to return home to bring back the abandon terrace. In this process, she found it’s not only about the land, but also about who she really is.

Sept. 28, 2:00 pm

Columbia Univ.; 203 Butler Library (535 West 114th St., New York)

*Followed by a talk on “Minorities’ Self-representation and Identity Construction: Indigenous People as a Case Study” by curators, moderated by Ying Qian, Assistant Professor of Dept. of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University 

Co-sponsored by C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University

RSVP required: http://library.columbia.edu/locations/eastasian/chinese/events/taiwanminoritymedia.html

 

Super Citizen Ko超級大國民

WAN Jen/ 1994/ 120min

Suspected of being a leftist, KO spent around 30 years in prison and institutions, always obsessively worrying about the fate of his best friend CHEN executed in the 1950s. Soon after his release, KO goes in search of the truth and a part of himself. Only when he learns the truth is he able to pay his respects.

(1) Sept. 29, 2:00 pm

New York Univ.; Michelson Theater (721 Broadway, 6th Fl., New York)

*Followed by a panel discussion with the director, curators and Feng-mei Heberer, Assistant Professor of Dept. of Cinema Studies, NYU, moderated by Zhen Zhang, Director of Asian Film and Media Initiative and Associate Professor of Dept. of Cinema Studies, NYU

Co-sponsored by The Asian Film & Media Initiative (AFMI), Department of Cinema Studies at New York University

(2) Oct. 2, 5:00 pm

Trinity Univ.; Northrup Hall 040 (One Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX)

*Followed by a conversation with the director and curators, moderated by Stephen Field, Professor of Chinese Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Trinity University

(3) Oct. 3, 7:00 pm

AMC Studio 30 (2449 Dunvale Rd., Houston, TX)

*Followed by a Q & A with the director and cuartors

 

Hand in Hand 牽阮的手

JUANG Yi-tzeng, YEN Lan-chuan/ 2010/ 140 min

A 17-year-old high school girl, TIAN Meng-Shu, falls in love with a Japanese-educated physician, TIAN Chao-Ming, who is 16 years her senior. Little did the fearless young lady know that their lives over the next 60 years would closely follow the thread of Taiwan’s post-World War II political history. The couple bravely face insurmountable obstacles to fight for Taiwan’s democratic and human rights movements under Martial Law.

Sept. 29, 6:15 pm

New York Univ.; Michelson Theater (721 Broadway, 6th Fl., New York)

*Followed by a Q & A with the curators

 

Banana Paradise香蕉天堂

WANG Tung/ 1989/ 116 min

“Door Latch” and his friend followed the KMT army and moved to Taiwan in 1949. They concealed their real name and got many trials and afflictions to adapt the circumstances in that special situation. Even though there are a lot of embarrassing situations and he suffers many difficulties, Door Latch survives. However, bigger secrets will unfold.

(1) Oct. 4, 1:00 pm

Hunter College; Hunter West Building, Chanin Center Insdorf Screening Room, RM B126 (Basement level, located at the intersection of East 68th street and Lexington Ave., New York)

RSVP required: flagship@hunter.cuny.edu  (Please bring photo ID to check in)

(2) Oct. 27, 3:00 pm

George Washington Univ.; Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Family Commons Room 602 (1957 E Street, N.W., Washington, DC)

*Preceded by a talk on “Historiographies of Home in Wang Tong’s Cinema, Before and After the Lifting of the Martial Laws” by Guo-Juin Hong, Associate Professor of Dept. of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke University; followed by a Q & A moderated by Liana Chen, Assistant Professor of Dept. of East Asian Languages and Literatures, George Washington University

Co-sponsored by Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Dept. of East Asian Languages and Literatures Kim-Renaud East Asian Humanities Lecture Series, George Washington University

 

Girlfriend Boyfriend女朋友男朋友

YANG Ya-che/ 2012/ 105 min

In the late 1980s, three rebellious high school students see their adolescent antics turn into unrequited love. When they leave their hometown to pursue their lifelong dreams in the big city, their relationships start to face the pressures of real life as the Taiwanese sociopolitical reformation movement unfolds around them and Martial Law is explosively lifted.

Oct. 6, 7:00 pm

TECO-NY (1 East 42nd St., New York)

 

The Fourth Portrait第四張畫

CHUNG Mong-hong/ 2010/ 105 min

After his father’s death, 10-year-old Xiang is sent to live with his mother and a stepfather he barely knows. However, a lurking threat of unspoken violence surrounds him in his new home. One night, Xiang dreams of his elder brother who went missing, his subconscious gradually bringing to light a startling secret revealed in his drawings.

Oct. 11, 1:00 pm

Hunter College; Hunter West Building, Chanin Center Insdorf Screening Room, RM B126 (Basement level, located at the intersection of East 68th street and Lexington Ave., New York)

RSVP required: flagship@hunter.cuny.edu  (Please bring photo ID to check in)

Paradise in Service軍中樂園

NIU Chen -zer /2014/ 133min

Paradise in Service follows the adventure of a boy, Pao, who serves his military service in Unit 831 from 1969 to 1972, in preparation for a war that could erupt anytime. Pao is assigned to the Sea Dragon (ARB), a unit noted for the toughest physical training. However, that the greatest challenge in his military service lies not in the Sea Dragon but in Unit 831, a special task he is later appointed to… 

Oct. 13, 7:00 pm

TECO-NY (1 East 42nd St., New York)