In 2011, the opening of Wei Te-sheng’s Seediq Bale in the Venice film festival competition revealed a different scenario from that of the late 1980s and 1990s, when festivals brought world attention to new directors and unexplored territories. The Golden Lion awarded to Hou Hsiao-hsien’s City of Sadness (1989) paved the way for establishing the connection between Venice and Chinese-language films. In 1994, the Golden Lion to Tsai Ming-liang’s Vive l’amour confirmed the special attention of the Venice festival towards Taiwanese authors. Moreover, thanks to the European art-house distribution system, these films received theatrical circulation and further established a certain line of Taiwanese cinema. In the new century, Seediq Bale provided the opportunity to introduce a Taiwanese film director still largely unknown to the Venice festival audience. Despite the reputation established with Cape n.7 (2006), Wei Te-sheng’s participation raised more attention for diplomatic concerns than for his film. A political controversy emerged in relation to the missing Taiwanese flag on the festival palace and to the listing of the film as a ‘Chinese Taiwan’ production while festival reviewers pointed at the puzzling structure of the 150-minute international version and admitted their difficulty in understanding its historical background. Neither the high production value of the film nor the support of a well-established international sales agent helped its international distribution. As the European art-house circuit had already declined, Seediq Bale had no significant circulation in Europe and festival attention returned to Tsai Ming-liang, recipient of the Grand Jury Prize with Stray Dogs (2013). Against the backdrop of global film circulation and the changed dynamics of European film festivals, Wei Te-sheng’s brief parable in Venice points at a set of intertwined dynamics. While Venice in the years 2000s started to incorporate market elements through the creation of a film market and a set of events which also addressed Chinese-language territories, why the rise of Wei Te-sheng as a prominent Taiwanese film-maker failed to guarantee his successful festival exposure? Why Taiwanese (and Chinese) commercial titles remained rarely screened despite the rise of the Chinese market and the growing relevance of Asian co-productions? Through the analysis of Wei Te-sheng’s episode within the context of Taiwanese and Chinese presence at the Venice festival since the turn of the century, this chapter approaches the dichotomy between the mutual interest of Taiwanese representatives and the Venice festival to increase their relevance on the global film market and the regular presence of authors with very limited distribution potential such as Tsai Ming-liang. By adopting a marketing framework, Tsai Ming-liang and Hou Hsiao-hsien could be discussed as ‘brand names’ which guarantee media attention to the festival regardless their commercial viability. Hence, the ‘discovery paradigm’ which brought to prominence unknown names in the festival circuit of the 1980s and 1990s has turned into the opposite paradigm. Only established directors get access to major festivals and competitive section while upcoming film-makers are marginalized to minor sections, as confirmed by the introduction of Taiwanese film-makers in the Venice International Film Critics Week. Furthermore, as the relevance of the domestic market makes the release period crucial for high budget films, investors are not inclined to risk a minor economic gain in order to respond to the festival requirement of a world premiere. These elements are thus affecting the connection between Venice and Taiwanese cinema. Such a connection has changed and focussed on other activities such as supporting market activities or allowing special events such as the presentation in 2014 of the first Italian-Taiwanese co-production. Beyond programming and marketing major festivals have thus included elements of cultural diplomacy.
|Titolo:||Taiwan Cinema at the Venice Film Festival: from cultural discovery to cultural diplomacy|
|Autori interni:||POLLACCHI, Elena|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2017|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||3.1 Articolo su libro|
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