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20 Documentaries you shouldn’t miss at the 12th Taiwan International Documentary Festival (Part 1)

These are twenty documentaries that you shouldn’t miss at the 12th Taiwan International Documentary Festival which will take place from April 30th until May 9th, 2021 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Selected Docs:

A Decision by Maso Chen – Taiwan | 2018 – 72 minutes
Section: Taiwan Competition

This documentary tells two different stories featuring ventilator-dependent patients in Taiwan and the people around them. Along with nearly 4,000 such cases on our island, these bedridden and mostly unconscious individuals are unable to communicate with the outside world, except through their ECG waves. Facing the dilemma of futile medical care, and the rights to live and die as one chooses, everyone has to make their own decision: Should they stay on or move on? (TIDF 2021)

Festivals & Awards:
2020 HKIDF

Screening Dates:
May 2nd, 2021 | Sunday | Shin Kong Cinemas 1 | 15:20 pm (With Q&A)
May 4th, 2021 | Tuesday | Shin Kong Cinemas 1 | 20:20 pm (With Q&A)

Trailer:

Comfort by Lee Hyerin – Taiwan | 2020 – 66 minutes
Section: Special Presentation

During the Korean War, the term ‘Supply Class V’ refers to women, as the fifth military supply offered to soldiers. Examining issues of the ongoing lawsuit against the Korean government filed by the former U.S. military’s ‘comfort women’, the film reveals how Japanese military’s sexual slavery system during World War II was repeated in the Korean society. There is no direct interview with the victims in the film, yet their own writings become a part of the story. (TIDFF 2021)

Festivals & Awards:
DMZ Asian Co-production Workshop
2020 DMZ Docs

Screening Dates:
May 8th, 2021 | Saturday | Shin Kong Cinemas 3 | 11:30 am

For My Alien Friend by Jet Leyco – Philippines | 2019 – 73 minutes
Section: Asian Vision Competition | International Premiere

A lone stranger broadcasts fragments of life he has experienced from different time and space, hoping to make a connection and communicate with other beings of life. Like a time capsule, this film contains artefacts of the first Filipinos, a family, a political upheaval, and the existence / non-existence of God, in an interactive and very obtrusive form rarely seen in conventional Filipino documentaries. Scan the QR Codes before and after the film for more hidden messages! (TIDFF 2021)

Festival & Awards:
2019 QCinema International Film Festival
2020 FAMAS Awards

Screening Dates:
April 30th, 2021 | Friday | SPOT Huashan A1 | 12:00 pm (Intro + Q&A Video)
May 5th, 2021 | Wednesday | SPOT Huashan A1 | 14:30 pm (Q&A Video)

Trailer:

Help Is on the Way by Ismail Fahmi Lubis – Indonesia, Taiwan | 2019 – 91 minutes
Section: Asian Vision Competition

A busy nanny school in Indramayu, West Java, prepares women to work overseas in countries like Taiwan as domestic workers and caregivers. Every year, hundreds of women like Sukma, Meri, Muji, and Tari are recruited by local agents, who are then remunerated by the schools after successfully seeing their recruits enrolled. While the women bring income that can alleviate family poverty, are they really improving their lives? And at what cost? (TIDFF 2021)

Festival & Awards:
2019 Best Documentary Feature Film Indonesia
2020 HKIDF

Screening Dates:
May 2nd, 2021 | Sunday | Shin Kong Cinemas 1 | 18:20 pm (Q&A Video)
May 4th, 2021 | Tuesday | Shin Kong Cinemas 1 | 10:40 am (Q&A Video)

Trailer:

Lost Course by Jill Li – Hong Kong | 2019 – 179 minutes
Section: Asian Video Competition

The year was 2011: In Wukan, a village in Guangdong, China, corrupted officials had illegally sold the villagers’ land, and the villagers decided to fight back. From the outset of the protest, first-time documentary filmmaker Jill LI embedded herself in the community of Wukan for several years. She chronicled the complex experiences of three key figures in the movement, examining an unprecedented experiment in grassroots democracy and its fallout. (TIDFF 2021)

Festivals & Awards:
2020 IDFA
2020 Best Documentary, Golden Horse Awards

Screening Dates:
April 30th, 2021 | Friday | Shin Kong Cinemas 3 | 12:30 pm (Q&A)
May 3rd, 2021 | Monday | Shin Kong Cinemas 3 | 12:20 pm

Me and My Condemned Son by Lee Chia-hua – Taiwan | 2019 – 74 minutes
Section: Taiwan Competition

This film centres around three condemned prisoners who have committed different crimes: One is still serving his sentence; another has taken his own life while imprisoned; the last one has already been executed. Using news footage and unembellished interviews, the director shows his concern for the prisoners and their families as fellow human beings, examines the contemporary history of death penalty in Taiwan, and further questions the current judicial system. (TIDFF 2021)

Festivals & Awards:
2019 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival

Screening Dates:
May 1st, 2021 | Saturday | Shin Kong Cinemas 1 | 20:50 pm (Q&A)
May 5th, 2021 | Wednesday | Shin Kong Cinemas 1 | 15:20 pm (Q&A)

Trailer:

No Data Plan by Miko Revereza – Philippines, USA | 2018 – 70 minutes
Section: International Competition

‘Mama has two phone numbers. We do not talk about immigration on her “Obama phone”. For that we use the other number with no data plan’, says the narrator as he crosses the United States by train. From Los Angeles to New York, multiple voices share thoughts, dreams and histories that evoke images far away from the enclosed interior of the train, creating a site of precarious movement, migration, and fugitivism. (TIDF 2021)

Festivals & Awards:
2019 IFF Rotterdam
2019 Yamagata IDFF

Screening Dates:
April 30th, 2021 | Friday | SPOT Huashan A2 | 20:00 pm
May 6th, 2021 | Thursday | SPOT Huashan A2 | 11:30 am

Trailer:

Opening Closing Forgetting by James T. Hong – Taiwan | 2018 – 80 minutes
Section: Taiwan Competition

This film is a visual record of long-lasting open wounds, and the disappearance of collective memory. The director examines the current plight of a group of elderly Chinese peasants, who, as civilians, have been made victims of the Imperial Japanese Army’s lethal human experimentation in Northeast China, suffering from the festering wounds for over 70 years. The director also visits some surviving soldiers of Unit 731——Japan’s notorious regiment devoted to biological warfare during World War II. (TIDF 2021)

Festivals & Awards:
2018 Best Documentary
Busan International Film Festival

Screening Dates:
May 1st, 2021 | Saturday | Shin Kong Cinemas 1 | 15:30 pm (Q&A)
May 4th, 2021 | Tuesday | Shin Kong Cinemas 1 | 18:20 pm

Trailer:

Reason by Anand Patwardhan – India | 2018 – 160 minutes
Section: Contemporary Scenes

From 2013 to 2017, gunmen on motorcycles has shot dead four prominent Indian rationalists, all non-violent opponents of right-wing, upper-caste Hindutva supremacists. Reason examines the rise of a myopic authoritarianism that is threatening India, the world’s largest democracy. Its eight chapters also bear witness to heroic acts of resistance in an epic battle that the world cannot afford to look away from. (TIDF 2021)

Festivals & Awards:
2018 Best Feature Documentary IDFA
2018 Toronto IFF

Screening Dates:
May 7th, 2021 | Friday | SPOT Huashan A2 | 14:40 pm
May 9th, 2021 | Sunday | SPOT Huashan A1 | 15:10 pm

Trailer:

Soil without Land by Nontawat Numbenchapol – Thailand | 2019 – 80 minutes
Section: Asian Vision Competition

For over 50 years, a civil war has been waged between the Shan people, the largest ethnic minority group in Burma, and the Burmese military. Jai Sang Lod, a young stateless Shan man living in the disputed borderlands between Burma and Northern Thailand, reluctantly submits himself to become a soldier for the Shan State Army. Trained to fight for Shan sovereignty as a lifetime duty, he yearns for a piece of identification and a steady living. (TIDF 2021)

Festival & Awards:
2019 Visions du Réel
2019 DMZ Docs

Screening Dates:
May 2nd, 2021 | Sunday | SPOT Huashan A1 | 10:00 am (Q&A Video)
May 6th, 2021 | Thursday | SPOT Huashan A1 | 15:30 pm (Q&A Video)

Trailer:

For more information about this festival please go to: https://www.tidf.org.tw/en

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