Taipei festival dives into China


TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taipei International Film Festival, currently in its ninth edition, boasts art house master Hou Hsiao-hsien as its chairman and is showing more than 200 films to its biggest audience ever, organizers at Taipei City's Cultural Affairs Bureau said.

"I admit that we can't compare to Pusan in terms of financial backing or Tokyo in terms of festival history," said Jane Yu, new director of the festival that started June 22. "However, we offer the most comprehensive Chinese-language film selection for audiences or interested buyers."

Yu, who also directs the Women Make Waves Film Festival and the Taiwan Biennial of International Documentary, took over the Taipei festival this year from film critic Wen Tien-hsiang, who had run it since 2002.

This year, a section titled "Global Chinese Cinerama" boasts three films from Chinese director Jia Zhangke, whose "Still Life" won the top prize at Venice Film Festival last year; Chinese director Lou Ye's "Summer Palace," the Chinese-language In Competition title at Cannes last year that was banned by Beijing; Hong Kong auteur Fruit Chan's new short, "Xi'an Story"; and an array of Taiwanese films that didn't make it to commercial theaters.

With the annual "City Vision" theme, the festival juxtaposes Chinese-language films with works from the film capital of another country. With Copenhagen as this year's theme city, a collection of Danish classics including films from Dogma 95 and a retrospective of Carl Theodor Dreyer are being showcased.

Three years ago, the festival successfully raised its profile with the inauguration of the International New Talent award.

This year, German director Sven Taddicken's "Emma's Bliss" snatched the New Talent top prize and the $30,500 that comes with it. Korean director Kim Young-nam's "Don't Look Back" took home the Special Jury Prize.

The opening film, "The Most Distant Course," by Taiwanese newcomer Lin Jing-jie, and the Polish film, "Retrieval," both received special mentions. The audience award was given to Denmark's "Pure Heart."

The Taipei Award, a Taiwan 1 million dollar ($30,500) cash prize for the best Taiwanese film of the year, will be announced Monday, the festival's final day.