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Taipei Film Festival Announces International New Talent Competition Selection


The 19th Taipei Film Festival has unveiled the selection for its highly anticipated International New Talent Competition, which received more than 500 submissions from around the world this year. The nominated films stretch across Europe and Asia and all the way to Africa, putting the talents of emerging filmmakers in world cinema on full display. The 12 selected films, ranging across Taiwan, China, Brazil, Belgium, Israel, Spain, South Africa, the United States, Singapore, and Romania, will be competing for the TWD 600,000 Grand Prize, as well as the TWD 300,000 Special Jury Prize and the Audience’s Choice Award. Making their world premieres at the festival are the Taiwanese films The Great Buddha+ by Huang Hsin-Yao and Missing Johnny by Huang Xi, while The Foolish Bird, The Wound, People That Are Not Me, Pedular, and Insyriated will be making their Asian premieres.



The Great Buddha+ was developed from the 2014 Golden Horse nominee for Best Short Film of the same name. The film’s director, Huang Hsin-Yao, is an experienced documentary filmmaker who won the Grand Prize and Best Documentary at the 13th Taipei Film Awards for Taivalu in 2011. The Great Buddha+ is his first full-length feature film and stars actors Leon Dai and Chang Shao-Huai. The story depicts a struggling middle-aged man living on the edge who accidentally discovers an unspeakable secret after sneaking a peek at what is on his boss’s dashboard camera.


Huang Xi’s feature film debut, Missing Johnny, boasts legendary director Hou Hsiao-hsien as executive producer, Yao Hongyi as director of photography, and Lim Giong and Point Hsu as composers. The film stars Lawrence Ko, Rima Zeidan, and Huang Yuan in an interweaving tale about three characters whose routine lives collide and intersect through chance and coincidence.



The Great Buddha+Missing Johnny


There are two films from China selected this year. The first is Children Are Not Afraid of Death, Children Are Afraid of Ghosts, winner of the NETPAC Award at the 2017 International Film Festival Rotterdam. This poetic documentary was created by filmmaker Rong Guang Rong, who snuck into a poor rural village in China with his mobile phone to explore the aftermath of a tragedy through both his own perspective as an adult and the eyes of children. The second is The Foolish Bird, which was honored with a Special Mention by the Generation 14plus International Jury at the Berlin International Film Festival. This film, the follow-up to director Huang Ji and her husband Ryuji Otsuka’s 2012 Rotterdam Tiger Award-winning Egg and Stone, turns the lens to the sexual awakening of a naïve teenage girl.



Children Are Not Afraid of Death, Children Are Afraid of GhostsThe Foolish Bird


Singaporean film Pop Aye, the feature debut of Kirsten Tan, has already captured the Screenwriting Award in the World Cinema – Dramatic category of the Sundance Film Festival and the Big Screen Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Featuring Ilo Ilo filmmaker Anthony Chen as an executive producer, the film depicts a middle-aged architect and an elephant on a road trip across Thailand.


Directed by kogonada, Columbus was selected for both the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Sundance Film Festival. Starring renowned Korean-American actor John Cho, the film examines the interaction between architecture and relationships through an outsider who finds himself stuck in the titular American town.



Pop AyeColumbus


John Trengove’s feature debut, The Wound, deals with two taboo topics—the circumcision ritual of South Africa’s Xhosa ethnic group and same-sex love. The film made its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was selected as the opening film of the Panorama Program of Berlin International Film Festival.


A modern Western set in Africa, Mimosas is the second feature-length film of director Oliver Laxe. The film won the Grand Prize at the Cannes’ Critics Week in 2016.



The WoundMimosas


An official selection of the Locarno Film Festival, People That Are Not Me is directed by and stars young Israeli filmmaker Hadas Ben Aroya. The film took home the top prize of the international competition at the 31st Mar del Plata International Film Festival.


Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Júlia Murat, Pedular is the winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. The film is a love story about a pair of artists who explore their creativity in a vast but decadent loft.



People That Are Not MePedular


In Insyriated, director Philippe Van Leeuw focuses his lens on an apartment building under siege against the backdrop of the war in Syria. The film won the Panorama Audience Award at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival.


Directed by Bogdan Mirică, Dogs was a standout in contemporary Romanian cinema when it was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and won the FIPRESCI Prize.






The International New Talent Competition is Taiwan’s only international competition for new directors and is open to international filmmakers with their first or second feature. The nominated films will be screened from June 29 to July 15 at Taipei’s Zhongshan Hall, Shin Kong Cinemas, and SPOT Huashan Cinema. For more information, please visit the Taipei Film Festival’s official website and Facebook fan page




2017 Taipei Film Festival International New Talent Competition line-up





Children Are Not Afraid of Death, Children Are Afraid of Ghosts

Rong Guang Rong






Bogdan Mirică

Romania, France, Bulgaria, Qatar

The Foolish Bird

Huang Ji/ Otsuka Ryuji


The Great Buddha+

Huang Hsin-Yao



Philippe Van Leeuw

Belgium, France, Lebanon


Oliver Laxe

Spain, Morocco, France, Qatar

Missing Johnny

Huang Xi



Júlia Murat

Brazil, Argentina, France

People That Are Not Me

Hadas Ben Aroya


Pop Aye

Kirsten Tan

Singapore, Thailand

The Wound

John Trengove

South Africa, Germany, Netherlands, France


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