Sunday, November 9, 2014

San Diego Asian Film Festival, Nov. 8, 2014

The "Taiwan Film Showcase," part of this year's San Diego Asian Film Festival, continued on Saturday November 8th with a string of films that represent the current state of Taiwan youth culture.

The short film segment was particularly impressive. Starting with THE BUSY YOUNG PSYCHIC 神算 (Chen Ho-Yu, 2013), a 29 minute film about a young woman who splits her time between two competing concerns, only one of them atypical: channeling spirits in a local temple and hanging out with her friends at high school. The film uses parallel editing so deftly that I intend to use it in my future film classes. Without a trace of irony or a heavy hand, the film juxtaposes our heroine on a night when she performs her duties as a priestess instead of going to a birthday party she desperately wants to attend. In the end, her intention to be a regular teenager is sacrificed by duty to her community.

THE POOL MAN 泳漾 (Kaidi Zhan, 2013), which runs a bit over 30 minutes, brings together an unlikely friendship between a swimming instructor who lives in the past and an overweight teenager who wants to learn how to swim.

PARTNERS IN CRIME 共犯 (Chang Jung-chi, 2014),a high school crime thriller that reminded me of Chan-wook Park's Stoker (2013) at times, was the film of the day. Boasting an impressive soundscape and slick soundtrack which I may also use as an example in future film courses, this film--like the brilliant, dark, and under-appreciated River's Edge (Hunter, 1986 -- with Crispin Glover)--tells the story of high school students dealing with the death of a classmate with little logic, supervision, or guidance to prevent their imaginations from spiraling out of control.

CAMPUS CONFIDENTIAL 愛情無全順 (Lai Chun-yu, 2013) was an excellent way to conclude the day of films--a legitimate crowd-pleasing romantic comedy that effortlessly earns its laughs as well as its surprises. Variety magazine claims that the film could likely be remade into other languages, so we'll stay tuned to that potential development.

With Director of KANO Umin Boya at the San Diego Asian Film Festival (11/7/2014)

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