“I thought the films were of high calibre, as well as being entertaining, cinematic and politically important stories to tell,” said jury member, filmmaker Maya Newell (In My Blood it Runs, Gayby Baby) of the four finalists. “It was hard to pick one winner, but ultimately we chose Unnamed for the nuanced complexity of the script, characterisation and direction. I enjoyed the tangled closeness between the two leads, the exploration of the tension between older and younger generations, the unsettled-ness of youth, the examination of identity and murkiness of sexuality. I thought these themes were cleverly woven frictions and liked that they were wisely not wrapped up, instead offering a depiction of humanity in all its uncertainty. For the same reason, I particularly loved the elegant and surprising ending – it simply put the story together without offering a neat resolve.”
Newell was joined on the jury by fellow filmmakers Hsiao Ya-Chuan (Father to Son, Taipei Exchanges, Mirror Image) and Sally Wu (The Good Daughter, Country Boys).
The other 3 finalist films were Lipstick, produced by Busan Asian Film Festival and directed by Etsen Chen, Nuhash Humayun, Kawakibi Muttaqien and Wang Xixi; Be Shit or Not to Be directed by Chen Kuan-Chung; and A-Tien directed by Robby Sun. “I’m really excited to see so many young Taiwanese filmmakers rising. The competition result came close as they were all pretty outstanding,” said Festival Taiwan Film Festival in Australia Director Benson Wu.
Here’s a quick Q&A with the winning filmmakers Chang Chun-Yu and Hong Gao, who also act in the film.
Why did you both direct and act in this short film?
Director Chang: This was our graduation work while we were majoring in acting, so in a way, we both have to act in the film. When we wrote the script, we both broke up with our partners and want to create a comedy to end this memory. We spend a lot of time chatting and sharing what’s happening in our life; often, creativity comes from those conversations we had.
Would you categorise this film as LGBTIQ+ film?
Director Hong: Yes and no, I think life doesn’t have to be restricted to fall in love for one particular gender. Often in different circumstance or life experience, you might end up falling in love with the same-sex or opposite sex. So it is an LGBTIQ+ film, but it doesn’t need a label with it as well.
How did you separate yourself from the character? Is Ya-Ting an imaginary version of yourself?
Director Chang: I think unconsciously yes. Ya-Ting has a very straight forward personality that can stand up for herself, especially when she was doing the divination (Bwa Bwei). I admire her how she can make a life decision like that.
Have both your parents seen the film?
Director Hong and Director Chang: Yes, and both our parents didn’t say much about the film afterwards. I think they feel a little awkward seeing us walking around with underwear in the film.
Can you name a film about youth that inspired you the most?
Director Hong: The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) by François Truffaut. The scene and storyline are still so vivid and memorable to me. I found it was very relatable to that youthfulness and rebellion in the film.
Director Chang: Tomboy (2011) by Céline Sciamma. When we got stuck during the scriptwriting process, I would watch this film for some inspiration and creativity.
Unnamed streaming on-demand now at Taiwan Film Festival in Australia until 30 July. Watch individually ($2.99) or as a package ($35), at www.taiwanfilmfestival.org.au