The Cinema of Small Nations

By Mette Hjort; Duncan Petrie | Go to book overview

18. TAIWAN

James Udden

Of all the small national cinemas represented in this volume, Taiwan seems almost out of place. Population-wise it is by far the largest at 23 million, at least 50 per cent higher than the population of Burkina Faso, which comes in at a distant second. More importantly, in this case one has to qualify the terms 'nation' or 'national' with quotation marks. Taiwan may function, act and in many ways even thrive like a small 'nation' should, but most countries in the world do not recognise the island as an independent nation out of geopolitical obsequiousness towards its neighbouring behemoth, the People's Republic of China (PRC). (Still officially called the 'Republic of China', Taiwan from 1949 to the present day has been considered a renegade province by the PRC.) While undoubtedly the largest and most inextricable shadow cast over Taiwan itself, the PRC is not the most important shadow in the case of Taiwanese cinema. Nor is Hong Kong, no matter how long the film industry there thrived in Ta iwan at the expense of Taiwanese-made films; nor is it even Hollywood despite how much it dominates Taiwanese screens today. No, the core shadow shaping Taiwan's cinematic predicament is cast by its own government, whether old or new. Decades of government policy eventually produced a cinema now almost entirely predicated on art and culture at the expense of any industry whatsoever.

How its cinema came to this has been a perennial question in Taiwan for the last two and a half decades. People in Taiwan see a fully-fledged commercial film industry as viable; the island provides ideal conditions for filmmaking with spectacular mountains, bountiful forests, beautiful coastlines, and even large

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The Cinema of Small Nations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Europe 21
  • 1. Denmark 23
  • 2. Iceland 43
  • 3. Ireland 60
  • 4. Scotland 76
  • 5. Bulgaria 93
  • Part Two - Asia and Oceania 111
  • 6. Hong Kong 113
  • 7. Singapore 127
  • 8. Taiwan 144
  • 9. New Zealand 160
  • Part Three - The Americas and Africa 177
  • 10. Cuba 179
  • 11. Burkina Faso 198
  • 12. Tunisia 213
  • Notes on Contributors 229
  • Index 233
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