TIFF 2006


I love international film festivals, because you see so many movies that you would otherwise never get to see. The Taipei International Film Festival has consistently been one of the best run international film festivals, and I always try to make it to some of the films if I can. This year grading kept me away during the first half of the festival, but we made up for lost time during the second week.

This year’s festival seemed more sprawling and less focused than previous festivals, but there were so many great films it is hard to complain. If only to keep track of everything we saw, I thought I’d list them all here with brief comments. They are listed in the order we saw them, with links to the festival web page for that film:

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Had some great scenes, but didn’t quite hold together. Are Hakka women really so oppressed? The ones I know are all really powerful and successful… I also don’t buy the whole concept that moving to Taipei destroys communal bonds.

Lepage is a genius. I don’t know why his films only get shown at festival? His films are even more watchable than those of internationally renowned directors like Mike Leigh, Atom Egoyan and Lars von Trier, all of whom get wide theatrical release. Nô is funny, biting, and thoughtful.


Experimental film that is trying to look like an experimental film. If it was a student project I’d give it an A, but why do we have to pay to watch it?

The Only Letter I’ve Ever Written

Self indulgent and unbearable. When will it end?

Skin, Grass and Fur

Nice animation, too bad the narrative was so poorly conceptualized.

One Less American

Who thought a film about abortion could be funny? This was great. The director went to Temple too! Glad to see Temple producing such good stuff. I hear this won an award.

Meat Days

Weird and scary, in a good way.


Made no sense, but was so much fun to watch it didn’t matter.

Art of the Devil 2

Japanese horror films are so last year, Thailand is now the go-to country for horror and gore! Lots of fun! Didn’t give us creepy nightmares like I heard Shutter does. Very satisfying!

Yellow Box

Great documentary about betel nut girls. You see their world as they see it — from inside the glass box looking out. Really nicely shot. I’m going to try to get a hold of a copy of this for teaching.

The Peter Pan Formula

Not a great film, but it had its moments. I’m bored of all these East Asian films where boys get to live out their sexual fantasies without paying any consequences… Still the women characters were really nicely written and there were some genuinely powerful scenes.

English Teacher, Kua Ki-hua and His Wife, Tsai Ah-li

This was a very amateurish production. While it is important to document the atrocities of the White Terror, my friend who was also imprisoned at this time, objected to how contemporary political agendas are read back on the history of this time. When I have time I’ll write more about this.

The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros

One of our favorite films of the festival. I can’t imagine anyone will ever get to see this in the US, given that the central relationship is between an obviously homosexual 12 year old and an older man he has a crush on. But the film is not about sex or even really about sexuality. It is about poverty. The liveliness of the community and the complex relationship with the police reminded us a lot of Chharangar.

Someone Else’s Happiness

Do they have an international competition for the most depressing European film? It lacked the cinematic flair of Bruno Dumont’s films, but it was well made and intelligent. Definitely worth watching. I just wish they’d re-written or re-cast the role of the suicidal father.


It’s great that someone is still making silent/slapstick movies. Lots of fun, even if it couldn’t maintain its own frantic pace.

Far Side of the Moon

Did I mention that Lepage is a genius? Well, he is.

Crimes of the Future

If you think David Cronenberg is weird now, imagine when he was a college student. Now that we’ve seen this we don’t need to see it again. It was certainly interesting …


Freaky. This was considered progressive therapy? They seem to constantly be extorting confessions from the kids, and won’t let go of them unless they talk about their feelings.” Anyone know how this film was received at the time? I also have problems with the whole decontextualized approach of Direct Cinema as it was understood in North America.

Joni’s Promise

A really fun way to end the festival. Practically punk-rock in its simplicity, this film was also very sweet. I still think he ended up with the wrong girl …