In September 2020, the first Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh (TFFE) took place digitally across the UK, showcasing the story of Taiwanese cinema from the ‘60s to the present day and featuring a programme, half of which was made up of UK premieres.
Later in 2020, and also a first, will be the Queer East Film Festival (QEFF) that takes place in a mix of online and physical screenings between October 2020 and January 2021. QEFF, that is devoted to showcasing rarely seen LGBTQ+ cinema from East and Southeast Asia, also presents dozens of feature, short and documentary films.
These two organisations now announce their first ever collaboration when the project will see two UK premieres. They are: Nobody (2020), a debut feature film from director Lin Chun-hua that tells the story of an elderly transsexual character, and The Shepherds (2018), a documentary by Elvis Lu charting the struggles of LGBTQ+ Christians in Taiwan.
Three short films that were presented earlier this year by TFFE – Towards the Sun (2016), directed by Wang Yi-Ling, a story of an unlikely friendship; Chen He-Yu’s The Busy Young Psychic (2013) focusing on a teenage girl with a special gift and A Taxi Driver (2018), directed by Chen Yen-Hong, a story of a man finally deciding to take control of his own life – will be presented alongside the two features.
Director of The Shepherds, Elvis Lu, who graduated from School of Cinematography, University of Arts Taiwan, said “This is probably the first time in the Chinese-speaking community worldwide that a film addresses the issues of both gender and religion. The focus is on the LGBT Christians in Taiwan and the different scenarios of their struggles.
“The main characters, in pursuit of their beliefs, have encountered the unfriendliness in the environment and the dilemma between their family and life. Despite the numerous difficulties, they fall down and get back up time and again, in the process of which we do see the bitterness and helplessness behind their bravery. Their hope is to alleviate the oppression and discrimination of the mainstream values against the minority individuals/groups in the society, and the film epitomizes how they have fought for marriage equality in Taiwan.”
As part of the collaborative programme, the producers will present a Q&A with the director of The Shepherd, Elvis Lu that will take place on Sunday, 1 November (time TBC) on TFFE’s YouTube channel and both festivals’ Facebook pages.
All five titles are available to watch digitally between 30 October and 5 November 2020 on the TFF website. Once an audience member gains access to a title, they will have 5 days to watch it and 30 hours playback time once they click ‘watch’. To ensure wide access to this unique cinematic offering, all films are free to access, limited to 400 users per title. UK audiences only.
This short programme is supported by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute and Taiwan Docs.