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November 6, 2009

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Taiwan director films self, son, dad

MANY documentary film makers turn the camera outward to explore social changes, and some turn it back on themselves, hoping to understand truths that eluded them earlier.

One of the inward-looking film makers is award-winning Taiwanese documentary director and sound recordist Tang Shiang-chu.

Two of his films, "How Deep Is the Ocean?" and "How High Is the Mountain?" form the first two parts of his homecoming trilogy.

They will be brought to Shanghai by the DocuChina project.

The first is Tang's first documentary work; the second won various awards, including Best Documentary at Taiwan's prestigious Golden Horse Film Festival in 2002.

The third and final part "How Long Is the Road?" was finished and shown in Taiwan early this year.

DocuChina project, launched by the Shanghai Documentary Channel in 2007, gives young film makers exposure and a platform. It has also brought many great contemporary documentary films and their directors to Shanghai, with modest prices in cinemas.

The third annual DocuChina will screen 24 films at Broadband International Cineplex on Huaihai Road M. on the first and third Monday of every month at 6:30pm.

Tang's two films will be shown on Monday.

The 60-minute "How Deep Is the Ocean?" follows two years of city life of young man Ma from an indigenous tribe on a beautiful but remote island off Taiwan.

Ma struggles and ponders in the city, far away from his home near the ocean. Ma's troubles and challenges also push Tang to reflect on his own life and work.

The two, with distinctive and very different cultural backgrounds, find something in common through their love of the deep ocean.

As Tang's first documentary, it discusses the relationship between man and nature through the lives of Ma and Tang.

As Tang was editing "How Deep Is the Ocean?" he was also expecting the birth of his first child. When an ultra-sound showed that the fetus was a boy, Tang recorded the image of the fetus and edited it into the documentary.

As Tang considered how proud his own father would be of his documentary and his coming son, he received the call saying that his father had just been hit by a stroke.

Shocked at the coincidence, Tang was inspired to make the second of the trilogy, "How High Is the Mountain?"

"If people's primary memory about the origin of life is also considered nostalgia, then where is mine?" Tang asks at the beginning of the film.

The 56-minute documentary records the growth of his son and their return to his father's hometown in Hunan Province.

He then records the daily life of the old man and the newborn, reflecting the touching relationship and emotions among the three generations. He explores the fundamental question: Where are we from and where are we going?

Date: November 9, 6:30pm

Venue: Broadband International Cineplex, 6/F, Shanghai Times Square, 99 Huaihai Rd M.

Admission: 35 yuan

Tel: 6256-5899 ext 6911


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