Taipei: Filmmakers focus on local democracy

Taipei Times
March 21, 2012

DOCUMENTING CHANGE: Three young filmmakers are making an effort to show people overseas how Taiwanese fought to establish the vibrant democracy they now enjoy

By Nadia Tsao / Staff Reporter in Washington

Taiwan's democratic development is being captured in a documentary by a group of three young filmmakers from London — a project that came into being after two Taiwanese students engaged in a heated debate on political issues, including Taiwan’s democracy, confrontations between the two major parties and cross-strait relations.

Taiwan-born Sam Lang (郎恩祺), Canada-born Kai Boydell and US-born Jeff Broadway, who doubles as both director and producer, joined forces in September 2010 to shoot a documentary that could bring the birth of democracy in Taiwan to the silver screen.

Through the 80-minute documentary titled Tsua-Lei-Dan (剉咧等) — “await in fear” in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) — the group hopes to introduce Taiwan’s hard-earned democratic development to the international community by screening the documentary at international film festivals.

Boydell was an acquaintance of Broadway in London, while Broadway and Lang were roommates at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Boydell said.

Boydell said the idea for the documentary stems from a number of fierce debates between Lang and another Taiwanese student on political issues, such as the conflict between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party, and the nation’s democratic development.

The disputes came as a surprise to Broadway, as for him democracy is something perceived as a common value by most in the West, Boydell said, while it took Taiwan decades of change and effort to establish the democratic society it enjoys today.

Despite the nation’s considerable efforts in achieving democracy, Boydell said people overseas still have a limited knowledge of Taiwan’s democratic development, with only a handful of academics really aware of how it came about and how precious it is.

To address this, the trio began looking for funding for a documentary film in September 2010.

Starting with the five special municipality elections in November 2010 up to and including the presidential election in January, the group captured images of Taiwan’s democratic achievements, while more than 30 political figures, American and Taiwanese, granted interviews.

“Seeing such enthusiastic political participation by the Taiwanese is truly touching,” Boydell said after witnessing the genuine emotions revealed during the filming. “The people really do care about politics.”

Dismissing concerns over Lang’s pan-green camp family background, the group reiterated that the documentary is not a campaign film for any political party, but a film that recounts Taiwan’s arduous path to democracy.

“Taiwanese are not attempting to cause trouble when they request independence or a space in the international community,” Lang said. “So we hope this documentary can bring Taiwan its rightful space in the global community.”

Translated by Stacy Hsu, staff writer

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