Friday, February 28, 2014

Taiwan Tour: Taipei (Part 1)

This 3-city tour of 'A2-B-C' in Taiwan (INFO) has been sponsored in part by film director Cheng Yu-Chieh and is part of an awareness campaign leading up to events marking the 3rd anniversary of the March 11 nuclear disaster.

This afternoon, Director Cheng arranged for a press screening of 'A2-B-C' at the Huashan Creative Park, housed in a former brewery built by the Japanese during its occupation of Taiwan.

with Director Cheng Yu-Chieh, Director Wu Yi-Feng and GCAA Secretary General Shu-Hsin Tsui

Director Cheng led the post-screening discussion.  Questions members of the print and television journalists as well as fellow filmmakers asked centered on the media's coverage of the disaster, censorship, and the film's reception in Japan.

Interview by Taiwan Public Television Service
Before tonight's big screening in the capital I had time for a short break, and was able to meet a couple of old friends and their children for dinner.  Panos, from Greece, and his wife, Mei, from Taiwan, were roommates of mine when I was doing completing my MA in Film and Television Production in Bristol 10 years ago.  They met in our flat and ended up getting married!

Taiwan Tour: Tainan (Part 2)

Walking around Tainan before the screening yesterday, we noticed many "No Nukes: No More Fukushimas" flags around the city.  I was surprise to see so many people publicly displaying their anti-nuclear sentiments outside their homes and shops.

The screening of "A2-B-C' was sponsored by the Homemakers United Foundation (INFO), and when we arrived at the venue, the first thing they asked me to do was to sign some of the "No Nukes: No More Fukshimas" flags that were to be sold for a fundraiser.

Around 150 people in the audience, and during the post-screenings Q&A, the first question was from a young girl who asked "What can we do to help?".  The simple act of asking this question is the first step to finding a solution, and during my time in Taiwan, I have met so many young people who are engaging in the world around them and searching for a way to make a change.  This has been so amazing.

Following the Q&A, I mentioned that I had brought a camera and asked that anyone who felt moved to offer a message to the people affected by the nuclear meltdown to please come to the front.  A long queue formed...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Taiwan Tour: Tainan (Part 1)

It is wonderful to be back in Taiwan, and an honour to be invited to share 'A2-B-C' this time with audiences in three cities.  The Green Citizen's Action Alliance (GCAA website HERE) is sponsoring this tour along with Taiwanese film director Cheng Yu-chieh.

After arriving in Taipei last night, I enjoyed delicious Shanghai cuisine with GCAA members, including Secretary General Shu-Hsin Tsui, Taiwan International Documentary Film Program Director Wood Lin and his wife, Kite, and GCAA volunteer Yenchen Lee.

After dinner, we visited a cafe owned by renowned film director Tsai Mingiang, where his many awards, including those from Venice and Dubai, are on display.

Director Tsai's Cafe Galerie
In the morning, I visited the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei with Director Cheng, before boarding the bullet train to Tainan, in the south of Taiwan, where the first screening of 'A2-B-C' was held last night (INFO).

The former capital of Taiwan, we had a chance to see just a bit of Tainan's rich history before the screening.

Chihkan Tower built on the site of a fort built by the Dutch in 1653.
I stayed at the Jasmine Guest House in Tainan.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Walking the Line (part 2)

The screening of ‘A2-B-C’ in the Thin Line Festival took place yesterday at the nostalgic Fine Arts Cinema on the square (screening INFO).  During the post-screening Q&A the audience offered challenging questions, something I always enjoy.

(Thank you to the guys from "Unleashed: a Dog-Dancing Story" WEBSITE for the Q&A photos!).

It was an honour to screen the film for an audience of such engaged film-goers and filmmakers whose work I respect so much.  This year the number of days of Thin Line is significantly fewer than in the past, and as a result, the calibre of films is phenomenal (some of my recommendations are below).

Having two friends and colleagues in the audience was an additional honour.  Award-winning documentary filmmaker Shawn Small (‘Ru: water is life’, 2013) and author Shay Youngblood whose book ‘Black Girl in Paris’ (excerpt HERE) was recently turned into a film, are coincidentally both living in the Denton area.

Some of my film recommendations from Thin Line:

Unleashed: a dog-dancing story (INFO) 83 min.
What I Hate About Myself (INFO) 28 min.
Pistols to Porn (INFO) 6 min.
The Trouble With Bread (INFO) 26 min.
Haenyeo: Women of the Sea (INFO)12 min.
Coney Island: Dreams for Sale (INFO) 80 min.
Perfect Strangers (INFO) 69 min.
Mobilizing Mozambique  (INFO) 20 min.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Walking the Line (part 1)

Since Wednesday I have had the honour of attending the Thin Line Film and Music Festival in Denton, Texas.  Although the festival is well-established, the 2014 edition is the first time for music to be programmed along with the documentary films.

Denton is gorgeous, and the town square, centered around an historic court house, is lined with beautiful shops and restaurants.  Home to two universities, there is a young, energetic vibe to Denton, which lends itself perfectly to hosting Thin Line.

Walking around downtown Denton, I visited shops and restaurants to ask them if I could up posters for tonight’s screening of ‘A2-B-C’ in their windows (screening INFO).  Although 'A2-B-C' is far from a "date movie", this screening happens to be falling on Valentine's Day (!).

Having had the experience of less-than-supportive communities during some other festivals in the past, I was hesitant at first... but every shop, every restaurant I entered graciously allowed me to place posters in the window and put postcards on their counters.  It was clear that the festival has the full support of the town, and I am so grateful for the welcome I have received.

Friday, February 07, 2014

everything is inside

My time in New Delhi ended at the National Gallery of Modern Art's solo exhibition of Indian artist Subodh Gupta's work entitled "everything is inside".  Recommended by friends, could they have known how deeply the themes of travel and home would resonate with me?

My time in India has come to an end... for now.  Until we meet again, India, namaste.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Out with the New, in with the Old

After the festival ended, I finally had a chance to see Old Delhi.  It was only a brief visit, but that just leaves more to explore for next time...

"No, darling, helmets are only for daddies."

You can't say they didn't warn you...

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Time off

Thanks to my films, I am grateful to have been able to visit so many countries: Holland, Croatia, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Switzerland, Guam (OK, it's not a country), Taiwan and so many others.  Although I have technically been to these countries, with all of the festival commitments, I rarely have much time to travel around (if at all) and often don't even have the chance to visit the requisite historical spots and museums that are the "must-see" spots for every tourist.

But this time, I had some free time in Delhi after the festival ended!  The first place I visited was Humayun's Tomb.  Built in 1570, this World Heritage Site was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal.  (Want to know more? Try THIS official link for Delhi tourism or THIS one from Unesco).

Please forgive me for the following vacation slides;  I almost never get a chance to do this.