The shortlist of 2020 Taipei Film Festival “International New Talent Competition” was announced on May 15. There are 412 entries this year, and the 12 shortlisted works come from Taiwan, China, Japan, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Germany, Belgium, Kosovo, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Spain, the U.S., Lesotho, South Africa, Italy, Denmark, Uruguay, the Netherlands and the Philippines; 2 of them will have their world premieres and 4 of them their Asian premieres at the Festival. These works will compete for the Grand Prize (NT$600,000) and the Special Jury Prize (NT$300,000). The competition results are scheduled to be announced on June 30.
“International New Talent Competition” is Taiwan’s only international competition for feature films. In addressing international film aesthetic forms and issues, Taipei Film Festival proposes Taiwan-specific perspectives from the angle of an Asian film festival. Among the shortlisted films, The Painting of Evil by emerging Taiwanese filmmaker CHEN Yung-chi features the leading actor River HUANG who has won Best Actor at the Festival, and stars TUNG Ming-hsiang and Esther LIU. With a random killer as the thread, art is weighed against morality through a talented prisoner and his unforgivable crimes. Another selected film, Leaving Virginia by LIN Li-shu, is an absurd teen sex comedy, featuring audacious performances by Peggy TSENG and emerging actors from Hong Kong and Taiwan. With battering nonsense and politically incorrect speeches, along with illustration, graffiti and live-streamed images, it realistically represents the folly of spoiled brats from a new generation.
The shortlisted foreign works this year are overwhelming. Several directorial debuts have already won awards at other film festivals, including This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection by Lemohang Jeremiah MOSESE which won an award at the Sundance Film Festival. With Lesotho in Africa as the backdrop, the story depicts how the forced displacement due to a reservoir construction by the government radically changes people’s harmonious and self-sufficient lives overnight, and forces them into the fate of collective wandering.
Ainu Mosir by FUKUNAGA Takeshi which just took home Special Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival features amateur actors from the indigenous Ainu group in Japan, plus the surprising cameo appearance of Lily Franky. The story focuses on an Ainu boy facing his motherland and his self-exploration, as well as Ainu people’s profound bond with their pals of the past and the present.
ZHENG LU Xinyuan’s first feature film The Cloud in Her Room recently won the Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Revolving around female psychology, the film’s linear narrative is interspersed with souvenirs and fantasy. Diverse visual media are employed in such a way to capture post-teen agitation, with the charm of images being explored to the full.
Danish emerging director Frelle PETERSEN took home the Tokyo Grand Prix of the Tokyo International Film Festival with his film Uncle. Featuring an uncle and his niece who depend on each other, the story relates how a gently arising romance leads to contradictions between them, depicting the current situations of villages around the world, and the choice of leaving the homeland faced by the younger generation.
Other shortlisted works include Scales by Shahad AMEEN, an Arab female director, which was awarded in “International Critics' Week” at the Venice Film Festival. In this film, ancient mermaid legends are transformed into a magical secular fable, silently yet straightforwardly accusing the brutal patriarchal structure of the Arab world.
The Impressionism style is the axis of The Metamorphosis of Birds by Portuguese director Catarina VASCONCELOS which won FIPRESCI Award for Best Film of the “Encounters” section of the Berlin Film Festival. the lost remembrance of family members from the father’s generation are elaborated through family objects, original soundtracks recorded by the filmmaker, and reconstruction based on theatrical performance.
Song Without a Name by Peruvian director Melina LEÓN which explores the history of the country was selected into “Directors' Fortnight” of the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. The film reveals a mysterious history of modern Peru. The black and white cinematography depicts how people live with loss and jointly seek a way out in facing violent terrorism, dysfunctional police bureaucracy, and being in an uncanny and unknown environment.
The Inviolability of The Domicile Is Based on The Man Who Appears Wielding an Axe at the Door of His House, a short film by Uruguayan director Alex PIPERNO, has been screened at 2018 Taipei Film Festival. This year, the filmmaker presents his first feature film, Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine, adapted from his sailing experience a decade ago. The director connects various worlds with a cruise traversing the city and the country, mountains and the ocean, as well as the traditional and the modern, thus opening the gate to secular fantasy.
In addition to the two official awards, an Audience Choice Award will be bestowed to the most popular film among the audience. Plus, echoing the spirit of encouraging emerging filmmakers, “International New Talent Competition” this year collaborates with Taiwan Film Critics Society once again. Members of the Society were invited to watch all the selected films with the official jury, and selected the winner of Taiwan Film Critics Association Award in expectation to show a perspective differing from that of the jury. For more details about “International New Talent Competition”, please check Taipei Film Festival’s official website (https://www.taipeiff.taipei).
2020 Taipei Film Festival’s International New Talent Competition line-up
Ainu Mosir, dir. FUKUNAGA Takeshi, 2020 Japan, USA, China
The Cloud in Her Room, dir. ZHENG LU Xinyuan, 2020 Hong Kong, China
Desterro, dir. Maria Clara ESCOBAR, 2020 Brazil, Portugal, Argentina
Exile, dir. Visar MORINA, 2020 Germany, Belgium, Kosovo
Leaving Virginia, dir. LIN Li-shu, 2020 Taiwan
The Metamorphosis of Birds, dir. Catarina VASCONCELOS, 2020 Portugal
The Painting of Evil, dir. CHEN Yung-chi, 2020 Taiwan
Scales, dir. Shahad AMEEN, 2019 UAE, Iraq, Saudi Arabia
Song Without a Name, dir. Melina LEÓN, 2019 Peru, Spain, USA
This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection, dir. Lemohang Jeremiah MOSESE, 2019 Lesotho, South Africa and Italy
Uncle, dir. Frelle PETERSEN, 2019 Denmark
Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine, dir. Alex PIPERNO, 2020 Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Netherland, Philippines