Taiwan Fun Magazine, June 2003

Edge Feature :

POP Cinema is not your ordinary movie theater
By Vito Lee Translated by Cheryl Robbins

¡@¡@Most people think of seeing a movie as a pretty straightforward thing. You look through the newspaper, or see previews on TV, and decide which one you're going to see. Movie theaters come with advantages: popcorn, soft drinks and a good time. Or, if you just want to stay at home, all you have to do is pick up the remote control and surf the movie channels--not a bad option if you don¡¦t want to fight the weekend crowds.

¡@¡@But for some people, movies are not just distractions. These people prefers to see films that make them think about complex issues. They believe there is beauty in cultural diversity; and that films are closely linked to art and culture, and should not be thought of only as commercial merchandise.

¡@¡@For such people, POP Cinema was created. The result of efforts by the Government Information Office, the central government's Council for Cultural Affairs, film director Hou Hsiao-hsien, and many other dedicated individuals who wanted to bring into being a place where people can enjoy non-mainstream films.

¡@¡@ POP is no ordinary movie theater, not only because it shows non-mainstream movies, but also because it shows them as part of film festivals rather than individually. POP's current film series will continue until February 2004, and includes seven film festivals: the Northern European Film Festival--"A Wonder of Poetic Imagination¡¨, the Taiwan International Animation Film Festival, Summer and Taiwan Films, Digital Films, Classical Martial Art Films, Classical Taiwanese Language Films, and ¡§A Tribute to Ozu Yasujir and Contemporary Japanese Masters¡¨.

¡@¡@In early 1995, Dutch director Lars von Trier advocated what has come to be called ¡§Dogma 95.¡¨ From his experiences of filming a TV series entitled ¡§Kingdom,¡¨ he found that it is easy to capture the attention of the general viewing audience by using unrealistic characters and plots, and adding special effects and stunts.

¡@¡@Von Trier¡¦s Dogma 95 is based on the concept that commercial films overuse tools like stunts and special effects. Thus, moviemaking has become very costly and complicated, as well as too surreal. Filmmaking should have a chance to return to earlier days, when there were simple plots based on real ideas and issues. Dogma 95 guidelines call for the use of real sets and props instead of fabrications. In addition, cameras should be portable for easy movement and only natural lighting should be used. The plot should be based on real situations without the need for superficial acting techniques or special effects.

¡@¡@ The films to be included in this series of festivals were chosen by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, best known for making controversial films about subjects like homosexuality. When asked why he chose to start off this series with a collection of Northern European films, he says that, ¡§Many people in Taiwan are not very familiar with Northern Europe. So, this is a good chance for them to find out more about this culture. In both areas, filmmakers suffer from a limited market, thus there is a lot that Taiwanese filmmakers... who have been influenced by Dogma 95. Moreover, there is much to learn from the determination of Danish authorities to rebuild the film industry there.¡¨

¡@¡@These film festivals can be viewed at Taipei Spot, the Hsinchu Film Museum and the Kaohsiung Municipal Film Archives. The Northern European and animated film festivals have already concluded, but can still be seen in Kaohsiung until June 13. At the end of June, the summer film festival commences.

¡@¡@Tickets are available at SPOT, the Hsinchu Film Museum and the Kaohsiung Municipal Film Archives, as well as through Acer. Ticket prices for screenings range from free of charge to NT$150.

Taipei SPOT
18, ZhongShan (ChungShan) N. Rd., Sec. 2, Taipei
Tel: (02) 2511-7786 Fax: (02) 2560-5222
Tickets: http://ticket.acer121.com

Hsinchu Film Museum
65, JhongJheng (ChungCheng) Road, Hsinchu City
Tel: (03) 528-5840~2 Fax: (03) 528-5843

Kaohsiung Municipal Film Archives
10, HeShi (HoHsi) Road, YanCheng, Kaohsiung City
Tel: (07) 551-1211