13 April 2021
The SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies hosted its 8th annual Film Week from the 15th to 19th of February 2021. This year carried a special focus around environmentalism in Taiwan, including several book talks and discussion sessions alongside our range of online film screenings and director Q&As.
This year’s Film Week roster consisted of a series of poignant documentary films: Director Shih Ho-feng’s “The Scenery Through the Smog,” Director Wing’s “Eleven Meinong Conversations” and Director Ho Chao-ti’s “County Road 184,” all held virtually in line with the Centre’s continued efforts to facilitate Taiwan Studies events and discussion amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Registered attendees were given on-demand online screening access with Q&A sessions being held on video conferencing platforms, helping enrich discussion and broaden session accessibility.
The Centre also took the opportunity to host two book launch events in line with the Film Week’s core focus on environmentalism in Taiwan. The first launch, "Civil Society and the State in Democratic East Asia" saw contributors Simona Grano, Mary Alice Haddad, Tobias Weiss and Dafydd Fell discuss their research methodology and the significance of their findings on new and diversifying interactions between civil society and the state in contemporary East Asia by including cases of entanglement and contention in the three fully consolidated democracies in the region: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Our second launch, “‘Greening Taiwan Communities’: Narratives from the new volume, Greening East Asia: The Rise of the Eco-Developmental State” saw Stevan Harrell, Lin Hui-nien, Chiu Hua-mei and Ashley Esarey provide detailed discussion on their research on Taiwan’s evolution from a developmental to an “eco-developmental” state, utilising a range of case studies from local activism against pollution, differing reactions to nuclear waste disposal and Indigenous community-based conservation activism.
Several featured events also contributed to making this year’s Film Week particularly special. 2021 marked the first time the Film Week programme included a student research panel featuring students from our Taiwan focused modules. SOAS postgraduate student Olivia Chollet (MA Pacific Asian Studies) and undergraduate student Lizzie Frost (BA International Relations and Chinese) received detailed advice from expert discussant Dr. Simona Grano and answered audience questions on their fascinating respective research focuses: "Politicization through Gendered Activism Women in the Japanese Anti-Nuclear Movement" and "Feminists. Eco-warriors. Housewives. The success of the Homemakers United Foundation." Audiences were also given the rare opportunity to discuss the Taiwan Meinong Anti-Dam Movement with one of its key community organisers Sung Ting-tung, providing a perfect companion event to Director Ho Chao-ti’s film and Q&A session.
Throughout the programme, audience contributions provided fantastic levels of discussion, helping capture the lively atmosphere enjoyed during our in-person events within the Film Week’s virtual format.
Despite the disruption SOAS has faced during the pandemic, the Centre of Taiwan Studies is proud to have persevered to ensure that our audiences and stakeholders can continue to participate in our wide range of events and rich discussion on Taiwan. We will continue to apply this drive throughout our future programmes.