On The Next Generation of Taiwanese Filmmakers – An Interview With Golden Harvest Awards Jury Member Huang Hao-Jie
(Photo Credit: Golden Horse Awards)
A director and finalist for multiple film festivals throughout Taiwan, Huang Hao-Jie 黃晧傑 is currently the programme director of the Kaohsiung Film Festival and jury member of this year’s Golden Harvest Awards.
With its 42nd edition this year, the Golden Harvest Awards is Taiwan’s longest-running short film festival. The Awards has become a prominent platform for talented young filmmakers and their works, and has nurtured talented filmmakers like Ang Lee, Tsai Ming-liang, Wan Jen, and many others.
The 42nd Golden Harvest Awards film screenings will be held from March 21 to 29, 2020 at SPOT Huashan Cinema and Fuzhong 15 – New Taipei City Documentary Cinema, and from March 30 to May 10, 2020 at Y17, Eslite Spectrum and all over the country.
Sinema had the pleasure to speak with Hao-Jie during the press conference of the 2020 Golden Harvest Awards about the shifting trends of Taiwanese films, and the difference in themes between the regions in Taiwan.
Have you seen a difference in themes and genres for this year’s Golden Harvest Awards?
I noticed a lot more science fiction. For the student films, I feel that they are much more confident with their technique. Student films previously had an unrestrained feel to it, but this year’s films seem to have matured and broken away from trying to force the traditional story structures of feature films into short films. In fact, the narrative from this year’s pool felt more casual.
I also feel that when they were trying to capture the atmosphere of the film there was a lot of focus on the personality of the characters because a lot of the cast were made of amateur actors. We can tell that they had to adjust what they wanted out of the film based on what they had. This led to a lot of the films having a very casual feel.
Nevertheless, for the audience to feel the spirit of the film is the most important goal. The difference technical-wise between the films is actually not that big, so now I think there should be a bigger focus on character work, on the message of their films, and the emotional takeaways. I think this is more important than anything else.
That is to say that a lot of young Taiwanese directors don’t focus a lot on the technical aspects [of their films] and will focus more on storytelling.
That is one side of the judging process. The other side is with the focus on science fiction films and how – because of their lack of budget – they don’t really execute their premise well. I think they should work with the limitations lest they want their finished products to feel awkward.
We saw a lot of students melding genres together, such as with horror and science fiction. Do you think that this year’s entries had any standout differences throughout Taiwan?
I feel that in general this generation of filmmakers is quite different from the rest. Their films focus on modern themes dealing with the Internet. They also focus on how we interact with the internet, such as tackling more sexual themes. But when they do, they tend to rush through them. I feel they have to capture the nuance of these themes for them to succeed. In the past, they tended to only deal with them with half-measures; when it comes to nudity or anything overtly sexual they tend not to go all the way. This leads to their works being left with awkward moments.
For this year’s Golden Harvest Awards, have you seen entries from last year’s Kaohsiung Film Festival?
Yes. There is The Child of Nowhere, See You, Sir!, student film A Day Out, and animation My Father at Grandma’s Funeral. Each type has its own strengths, and I think that the directors behind these works all approach films in a very ‘pure’ way which is really difficult to pull off.
As the programme director of the Kaohsiung Film Festival, do you see any difference between the stories from the north and south of Taiwan?
The most obvious difference would be the use of Taiwanese and Hakka in student films from the southern part of Taiwan. For northern Taiwan, most of the films are set in the city as compared to the countryside. From the difference in setting, it is obvious that there are more films coming from the southern schools that are more ‘Taiwan-flavoured’. For those set in the city, most are about romance or the isolation and loneliness of city life. These are more common in the films from the northern part.