Taipei Film Festival Going Ahead Without Overseas Visitors

Silent Forest
Courtesy of Taipei Film Festival

The Taipei Film Festival will go ahead in June, making it one of the first significant festivals to do so in the post-coronavirus era. While its film selection is international, audiences will be entirely local.

Organizers announced Monday that the festival will open on June 25 with the world premiere of Taiwan-made “Silent Forest.” It will close on July 11, with a screening of “Days,” by Tsai Ming-liang, which appeared in competition in Berlin and earned a special mention in the Teddy section for gay film.

Based on real events, “Silent Forest describes a cruel game in which deaf teenagers discover the last row of the school bus, and how the joy of integrating into a new life instantly becomes fear. Festival organizers called it “one of the most stunning and shocking movies of 2020.”

Berlin, in late February, was one of the last major film festivals to take place before the COVID-19 outbreak became a pandemic that struck Asia, Europe and North America. Since then a string of high profile festivals including those at Cannes, SXSW, Hong Kong and Shanghai, have been canceled or postponed. Others, such as Sydney and Melbourne, initially canceled this year’s program, but then reversed tack and will become online-only events.

Taiwan, despite being one of the first places in the world outside mainland China to uncover virus cases, has an exemplary track record of tracking, controlling and treating the disease. The island has recorded just 441 cases and 7 deaths.

The festival will be run in accordance with recommendations and regulations of the Central Epidemic Command Center. Organizers warned that if a large-scale group infection occurs in Taiwan within two weeks before the film festival starts, or during the film festival, the event will be immediately cancelled.

One of the government’s key disease control measures has been to close the territory’s borders. These restrictions have not yet been lifted.

“All overseas filmmakers and judges originally scheduled to be invited during the festival will have their invitations canceled. Since there are no overseas filmmakers in the international new talent competition, the physical award ceremony will be canceled and the winner lists will instead be announced online,” organizers said.

Taiwan’s only film competition for international feature movies, the new talent competition this year includes: “The Cloud in her Room,” by Zheng Lu, which won the Tiger Award at Rotterdam; Tokyo Grand Prix winner “Uncle,” by Denmark’s Frelle Petersen; and “Scales” by Shahad Ameen, which debuted in International Critics’ Week” at the Venice Film Festival.

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 Leon, 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