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Growing Pains《少年阿堯》

Asian Cinema, Festival, Film Festival, Review, short film, This Week Leave a Comment

Taiwanese short film, Growing Pains focuses on fourteen-year-old Yao (Chen Chong-En), who has had enough of his dilapidated sneakers.

Tired of having them merely repaired again and again by his financially strapped father (Yi Wen-Chen), who can’t afford to replace them, Yao attempts to convince his father to purchase a new pair.

For Yao, this becomes his obsession, and it is all that he focuses and concentrates on – he is eager to not be scoffed at by his classmates and wants to be able to match his peers on the track team.

One day, Yao’s father receives a visit from debt collectors, which ends in a nasty dispute. Immediately following this, Yao suddenly gets a pair of shoes from his father. What Yao fails to realise is how close his father is to real, far-reaching trouble.

Whilst his father makes attempts to get approval from his son, trying to uphold his dignity, and deal with unscrupulous standover men, Yao remains largely unaware of what his father is going through – and how near he is to facing serious problems and becoming insolvent.

All he can think about is his decrepit shoes and how much he wants a new pair.

Heavily in arrears to the debt collectors, Yao’s father continues to hope (dream) a lottery will help him out of his financial woes, pay his bad debt and give him respite and peace which he so needs and craves.

Despite the fact that his father toils and is under pressure from his outstanding financial obligations, things remain tense between the two, and Yao never fully understands the magnitude and severity of the situation.

The film is directed by Tapei-born filmmaker Po-Yu Lin, partly based on his adolescent encounters with his father.

This is a sharp, thoughtful study of the relationships between parents and children, the father-son bond and the sacrifices parents make by putting children first.

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Asian Cinema, Festival, Film Festival, Review, short film, Streaming, This Week Leave a Comment

There is a distinct sense of politically charged awareness and anxiety, which hangs over Taiwanese romance, Butterflies, set sometime in the near future.

In this setting, the island country has been occupied and taken over by an oppressive regime and turned into a province of this empire.

Within this Orwellian situation, a young woman, Yu (Han Ning) is accused of conspiring against the incumbent ruling power and hiding her treasonous family, who refuse to obey and comply with the new administration.

After escaping from the clutches of the authorities that have detained her, Yu attempts to find Lien (Yu Pei Jen), a plastic surgeon who can change her appearance and aid her in escaping the totalitarian state.

The desire for freedom and free-will however, renders Yu vulnerable to and desperate for help and a safe harbour. She is ultimately seduced by the charm and charisma of Lien, who represents hope and love. However, things are not as ideal as they may seem…

So begins this 43-minute Taiwanese dystopian film, set in Taipei.

Interestingly, the film is not directed by a Taiwanese-born filmmaker, but by Spanish (Catalan) expat and Taiwan-based director Albert Ventura.

Nonetheless, it is a movie informed by, and with distinct parallels, to Taiwan’s past and present. Although this story is told from an outsider’s view, the two characters reflect the past, dark days of the Taiwanese White Terror period (May 1949 – July 1987) and its modern-day challenges. There are echoes of the political angst of current and past Taiwan, and the horrors faced, in Yu and Lien’s search for freedom – this is a country which only came out of martial law in 1987 yet faces threats to its acceptance and adoption of democracy and its freedom.

The burgeoning relationship between its two characters nods to hope of a free and independent future for Taiwan, whilst the dire and difficult climate they’re caught within acknowledges the past the country has faced – and its subsequent legacy.

Despite the challenges faced by its two characters and the diabolic political state they and those in the film find themselves in, the film is optimistic for Taiwan’s future.

Butterflies recognises this upside – as well as charts the precarious road ahead.

This is one sci-fi fans and genre buffs will enjoy.

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You and Me, Before and After: Tattoo You

The latest short film from writer/director Madeleine Gottlieb attracted Yael Stone and Emily Barclay to play sisters in this highly personal comedic drama, which will have its international premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival.
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Nash Edgerton: Baby Shark

A lifelong prankster, Nash Edgerton felt it was time to dust off his screen alter ego Jack for Shark, the third film in his trilogy of comedy shorts which began with Spider (2007) and Bear (2011).
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All Films Great and Small

We speak with writer/director/editor Jordan Giusti (and co-producer Chris Luscri), about his short film Reptile, which won the Best Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Melbourne International Film Festival.