Presenting: Selections From The Golden Harvest Awards 2021 Screening at Our Upcoming Showcase6 min readReading Time: 5 minutes
We are extremely excited to be able to host our first in-person screening after more than two years of unfortunate circumstances. And what better way to celebrate the occasion than with films from two places very close to our hearts — Singapore and Taiwan.
In 2021, four award winners and nominees from Singapore’s National Youth Film Awards (NYFA) were selected for a special presentation at Taiwan’s Golden Harvest Awards 2021. On 23 January, these four films will return to our shores, joined hand-in-hand by four films from the Golden Harvest Awards 2021, for an in-person screening. Together, they will be presenting the cutting edge of short film storytelling from the young filmmakers of both islands.
Covering Singapore film is one thing, but having the opportunity to share and watch them with an audience is certainly always far more exciting. This, especially, when we remain as thrilled about these films as when we first wrote about them on the website.
Singapore and Taiwan may be physically separated thousands of miles apart but the cultural dialogue has almost always remained strong between the two islands. Most definitely, this has been direly affected by the ongoing pandemic shutting down travel. It is in these uncertain times that we feel extremely honoured to be able to present and share Taiwanese voices here in Singapore. It’s not just a short film showcase for us.
Definitely, Singaporeans have continued to be in the loop with Taiwan. But short films are a different beast compared to music, television series and feature films. Short films, especially when a large majority are independently funded, tend to be storytelling essentialised. With so much to lose and so little to gain (financially, at the very least), short films are the rebel yells of storytellers stopping at nothing to share their perspectives — their fears, hopes, and dreams — with the world.
And with Taiwan’s exceptionally vibrant, competitive and supportive film ecosystem, being able to make it to the Golden Harvest Awards — one of the most prestigious film events on the island — is absolutely indicative of the shorts’ quality.
In anticipation of the showcase on 23 January, we preview the four selected Taiwanese films with a brief review of each.
Neko and Flies《貓與蒼蠅》
Dir. Tsao Shih Han 曹仕翰
Neko and Flies present a brutal side of Taiwan — perhaps foreign even to most Taiwanese — where animal instincts prevail. The short follows the efforts of Chuang, a dispute manager of sorts amongst foreign fishermen living in ships, who shelters Neko, an intellectually-challenged prostitute, on a ship. Their uneasy peace is thrown into question when the shipowner decides to sell the ship, and tensions brew between groups of foreign workers.
At the port, Southeast Asian foreign workers are forced to fend for themselves working under bosses unconcerned about their basic needs. Animal instincts and needs reign supreme. Fights break out over a disputed electric fan. For them, Neko’s services are one of the few solaces found. It’s a desperate world ever limited by space, making every tiny gap the film etches out for its characters feel exceptionally liberating. The choice to cast real fishermen and factory workers further add authenticity and heartrending poignancy to the film’s world where workers are about as dispensible as the fishes they catch.
Grand Adventure Railroad 《大冒險鐵路》
Dir. Huang Hsiao-Shan 黃小珊
From the laboriously crafted hand-drawn animation to the intricate miniatures powered by stop motion, the attention to detail in the charming animated short is astounding. A train conductor leads a routine family tour in a luxurious carriage through the war-torn countryside, where the privileged cheer, jeer and take photos of the poor. It’s no different than a tour of a safari. When the train trip unexpectedly screeches to a halt, a mysterious creature takes the opportunity to sneak on board.
Every delicate emotion is showered with so much charm, bringing a kaleidoscope of colour to its black and white motif. The short’s nimbleness with lighting has to be noted. So often, the lines between live-action props and animation are delightfully blurred. Life-life shadows cast on animated characters add weight to a hand-drawn world that might as well have popped out from paper.
The 2014 Consensus《家族無共識》
Dir. Su I-Hsuan 蘇奕瑄
The 2014 Consensus tactfully parallels the bread and butter issues dividing a family with the burgeoning sentiments that fuelled the 2014 Sunflower movement. Taking place during the early days of the movement, daughter Hsin-Hua is torn between her family duties and her desire to join her friends at the protests. There may be playful references to Taiwanese politics but the film remains firm in firstly being a family drama.
Much to the frustration of Hsin-Hua and her younger brother, their family is caught up with issues they consider archaic, namely when a ceremony commemorating their grandmother’s death anniversary goes awry, and obsessions with feng shui reach a boiling point. Their older relatives are stuck in the past while their island’s future is at stake. However, the youths are dismissive of bread and butter issues the rest of the family is jostling over as well.
Sprinkled with comedic moments and terrifically performed emotionally high points, The 2014 Consensus is a tender reminder that blood is far thicker than political alignments.
Dir. Wu Yu Fen 吳郁芬
The experience of Southeast Asian foreign workers has long been a consistent subject for Taiwanese filmmakers. Caregivers, despite spending up to decades with their families, still tend to be deemed outsiders, due to thick cultural and language barriers they have to overcome every day. There places Shally, an Indonesian caregiver, at the epicentre of a family at their most vulnerable stage.
It’s a devastatingly gorgeous short swollen with grief. The family patriarch’s passing leaves behind a distraught widow, their caretaker, and children who seemingly could care less about even returning home for his wake. It’s a palpable emptiness, always affectingly expressed through beautiful cinematography, that Shally is tasked to fill — despite incessant taunts that her efforts will never be paid for. Shally’s contract is effectively over. What else could keep her around other than connections that run even deeper than the elderly couple’s children?
We are heartened by the overwhelming reception we have received for the Golden Harvest Awards 2021 and National Youth Film Awards Short Films Showcase. Seats for the showcase are currently all filled but do join our waiting list on our Peatix page — we will be informing you as soon as seats are available.