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Mirror Image at the Taiwan Film Festival in Australia
Photograph: SuppliedMirror Image at the Taiwan Film Festival in Australia

The jam-packed third edition of the Taiwan Film Festival in Australia kicks off today

From a Hsiao Ya-Chuan retrospective to a cult comedy in the making, there's something for everyone

Stephen A Russell

Film buffs with an eye for the international will be jumping for joy at the launch of the third Taiwan Film Festival in Australia today. Streaming on-demand until July 30, folks across the country can get in on the act digitally (including our locked-down Melbourne fam).

The incredible line-up of 19 movies includes Taiwanese filmmaker Hsiao Ya-Chuan’s tip-top trio of features – 2018’s Father to Son, Mirror Image (2000) and 2010 hit Taipei Exchanges. Born in 1967, he began making short films at 21 before shifting into the advertising industry. After shooting a music video with Hou Hsiao-Hsien (The Assassin), Ya-Chuan's return to the feature fold with Mirror Image saw his debut screened at the Cannes Film Festival no less.

Taiwan Film Festival director Benson Wu’s theme for this year is ‘Forgotten’, exploring aspects of Taiwanese society that are often overlooked, and the complex layers of immigration that have shaped the country. “We want to challenge stereotypes of Taiwan with films like Boluomi and The Good Daughter,” he says. “We seek to evaluate and reconnect Taiwan’s many forgotten identities and culture through this year’s program.”

Directorial duo Lau Kek-Huat and Vera Chen were nominated for Best New Director at Golden Horse Film Festival 2019 for Boluomi, an astonishing look at a dark secret buried in Malaysia’s history. Guerrilla warfare drove many villagers to send their infants away in the hope of securing a better future for them. The feature centres on Boluomi, one of those babies, and his estranged son Yi-Fan, who flees to Taiwan due to escape racial discrimination.

Nominated for an award at the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival, Sally Wu’s The Good Daughter is a powerful documentary following the hard-graft life of Azhe. Holding down two jobs in a small fishing village in Taiwan to support family back in Vietnam her working mother and disabled husband, she's torn between two countries. Can she continue to support loved ones in both?

GF*BF at the Taiwan Film Festival in Australia
GF*BF at the Taiwan Film Festival in Australia Photograph: Supplied

With a name like The Gangs, the Oscars, and the Walking Dead, director Kao Pin-Chua’s black comedy is surely halfway to cult classic already? It parodies the film industry and is packed with zany plot twists as two best mates in deep debt dubiously decide to tap a gang leader for financial support. What could possibly go wrong?

Co-presented by Queer Screen, GF*BF, a queer classic from 2012, explores the ‘it’s complicated’ relationship between three childhood BFFs as they move to the big city during a tumultuous time in ‘80s Taiwan.

Hsiao Ya-Chuan will also judge the Short Film Competition alongside directors Maya Newell (In My Blood It Runs) and Sally Wu (The Good Daughter), with the winner announced on July 23.

You can explore the full Taiwan Film Festival in Australia program here. Films will be available to stream individually at the bargain price of $2.99 or the even more enticing $35 full package deal.

Want more international movie goodies? Check out JIFF At Home.

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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