From SoCal to Switzerland

The annual conference for the North American Taiwanese Women’s Association (NATWA) was a blast as usual. Highlights included a hundred Taiwanese women aged 50+ dancing to old Taiwanese hits while waving iPhones lit up with a flashlight app. I was invited to be part of a panel of younger Taiwanese women artists on Sunday. It was a bit of a financial struggle to go, but after the committee in my head debated it for several weeks, I finally decided it was important to attend a conference that was built around the theme of women artists.

Since I began working on ALMOST HOME: TAIWAN, my big pitch to the Taiwanese community has been that they need to consider the arts as a means of promoting awareness of Taiwan issues. Artists are rarely recognized or encouraged in Taiwanese culture. And I’ve lately been keenly feeling this lack of support, which continues to emanate from my parents though I’ve been doing what I do for over 20 years now. It actually seems to be an issue that increases each year, like I’m having a more and more difficult time shoring up a building with a major missing foundational beam. So besides the opportunity to present my work to more people, part of my decision to go to San Diego was the idea that maybe in some little way, I could help a future generation of Taiwanese-American artists.

And of course, it was a fantastic weekend culminating in a great screening at the Taiwanese Center in San Diego. At first I was a bit worried about the screening since I was warned that there might not be much of an audience but in the end, we had to put out another row of chairs since around 30 people showed up. We ended with several new contributors and an invitation to come to Houston and Los Angeles with the film. Thank you to the Wu Family Foundation, Gin Ru Lee, Carol Ou, Jin Pi (Stone) Shih, Deana Chuang, Jen Kuo and Joann Lo for a lovely weekend. And to Bruno Reinhart for helping to make this trip possible. ❤ to all of you!

After the screening, I was dropped off at the airport and flew straight from San Diego to Switzerland on an overnight flight wedged between two large men. My couchsurfing host in Lausanne turned out to be a sexy Polish paraglider and I ended up staying an extra day wandering through the mountains and medieval towns of Valais with him.

But first, I had about a week at Visions du Réel, meeting several interesting filmmakers and learning more about the documentary industry. There was a strong Eastern European component to the festival, which was a big plus, since I always find that people from behind the Iron Curtain have an instant connection with Taiwan’s struggle for democracy. And I think it’s worth it just speaking to people about Taiwan. It’s very gratifying to continually surprise people with the facts of Taiwan’s history. Even if the film doesn’t get wide distribution, at least there are now twenty more people who know about Taiwan and perhaps they will tell a few friends who will tell a few friends and the truth will spread.

Back to London tomorrow! And maybe Sheffield Doc Fest in June??? If I can find the money. The committee in my head is already debating…

[…this was written on April 28th & things have changed slightly…I’m actually off to Cannes! more soon…]

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Every film in the Visions Du Réel Festival started with this over-excited guy shouting, “Let’s go outside & smash all the windows!!!!”

 

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Almost Home: Taiwan poster at the Media Library in the Visions du Réel Festival.

 

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Cute fairytale castle of Nyon.

 

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