Monday, July 2, 2012

Dear Taiwan - a documentary

Dear Taiwan
by Wilson Loria

Right at the beginning of director Chen Lihkuei’s documentary Dear Taiwan, white clouds are shown rolling and moving at an incredible fast speed. And that seems to be part of the pace with which Taiwanese society lives today. During one and a half hours of  interviews, Taiwanese artists, musicians (Taiwanese hip hop was certainly a surprise to this writer), and social activists state their viewpoints and opinions about two main discussions in today‘s Taiwan: total independence from the mainland China or unification. There! That’s the main theme of this quite informative documentary.

In spite of the fact that Dear Taiwan is spoken in Chinese and/or Taiwanese (I would dare say),with the exception of a few sentences in English throughout the movie, the language is definitely not a barrier for a non-Chinese speaker to understand and, to some extent, sympathize with the presented cause. One can easily “feel” those heated discussions; language here is not a major key. But the best part of those discussions/demonstrations is the presence of young people in, say, an indoor audience or a street rally. They voice their opinions and sing their protest songs passionately. Passion is the keyword that can be heard and felt through these young people on screen.

Seeing so many politicized young people in today’s world is a healthy realization that not everything is lost. They (and I mean the youth in the whole world) are out there, fighting  to be heard by their not-so open-minded governments. Examples mushroom in the world: Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and more recently Syria. Let alone “Occupy this” or “Occupy that” throughout the western world. Before the viewing of this documentary, I confess that I had never ever thought of or envisioned Taiwanese young people being part of that list. What a surprising realization!

As for the discussion about Taiwan’s issue of independence or unification per se, it is difficult for a foreigner to give his or her opinion about such a heated issue. But, of course, I cannot deny that my first reaction is to march shoulder to shoulder with those young men and women all around Taipei or any other city around the country. Note that I am calling Taiwan  a country; not even an island.

Talking about islands. I have heard, most of my life, that people who were born on islands love to associate their roots with a country on the mainland. Wherever that mainland may be. For example, Cubans like to gladly inform that they are Cubans but their grandparents are from Spain. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and many others seem to share the same feeling towards their roots. However, through Dear Taiwan, we learn that these same young people are surely not in favor of associating themselves with the mainland China at all. They seem to be totally aware of their roots, but mainly aware of  their Taiwanese, proud roots.

In conclusion, Dear Taiwan works as an open letter to the world. A letter that attempts to explain the political situation in Taiwan and its youth. A letter that seems to be flying incredibly fast through those white clouds at the beginning of the documentary. May the world, as a united voice, answer those young Taiwanese men and women as fast as they all deserve.

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