Posts Tagged ‘Female Filmmakers’

Long Time No Sea (2018) **** Taiwan Film Festival UK 2019

Dir: Heather Tsui | Drama | Taiwan, 93′

This stunning family film blends drama with an ethnological portrait of the indigenous Tao people who have lived on Orchid Island, Taiwan for nearly a century. Long Time No Sea has a convincing ring to it because it’s based on the real life experience of director Heather Tsui whose strong message very much connects with the narrative of survival for small traditional communities all over the world, while also bringing a lightness of touch.

What makes this story of a young teacher who arrives from the city so appealing is its vibrant cinematography and engaging way of putting across the challenges facing these people in a low-key and delicately drawn way, and through preparations for a dance competition which both informative and entertaining. The cast of mostly non-professionals from the Tao community add authenticity to the mix. We watch them at play and at work in the gloriously scenic settings, although it’s a pity that girls seem more or less absent from proceedings.

The story revolves around Manawei (Zhong Jia-jin) who lives with his strict but loving grandmother (Feng Ying-li). It’s traditional in the Far East for parents to work abroad for financial reasons, and this is the case here. Manawei’s father (Ou Lu) has a job on the mainland, so the boy often feels lonely and slightly deprived in comparison with the other kids. Shang He-huang plays the attractive teacher Chung-hsun, who is looking for experience before he moves on to a more senior role. He immediately hits it off with the boy, and when he learns about the bonus offered to teachers willing to coach kids for the national dance competition in Kaohsiung, he pricks up his ears. And soon there’s a love interest coming his way in the shape of Chin-yi (Zhang Ling), a local radio host.

Tsui’s script mines the dramatic potential of the competition but never feels  sentimental or overwrought. The underwater scenes are impressive, particularly  touching is the one where Manawei dives with his father into the Love River and is transported to Orchid Island. Occasional music from award-winning composer Cincin Lee and traditional Tao folklore songs make this impressive debut a memorable experience MT.




One Note at a Time (2017) ****

Dir:  Renée Edwards | Featuring: Clarke Peters (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Dr John, Kermit Ruffins, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Irma Thomas, Hot 8 Brass Band | US Doc | 95 mins.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans traditional jazz musicians gather together to play and talk about the soul of their city which celebrates its 300th Anniversary in 2018. 

Renée Edwards’ paean to these Louisiana musicians is a labour of love that’s been nine years in the making. Four of these were spent following a small number from different genres, as they came to terms with their changed city, musical landscape and life. Intertwined are their musical and health stories, as they frequent the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, a lifeline and comfort, that simultaneously had its own struggles, whilst aspiring to fulfil a mission to ‘keep the music ALIVE’. Without these guys the city would lose its soul, not to mention the thousands of tourists who come to join in the fun.

Best known for her editing work for some of television’s highest profile news and current affairs series and documentary dramas, including award-winning Panorama Specials, A Fight to the Death and The Mind Reader, this is the British-born filmmaker’s feature debut. And it’s a semi auto-biographical piece recording her own happy memories of childhood holidays spend in the area, but shot through with a melancholy that records a dark time for New Orleans when the music stopped in 2005 in the aftermath to one of the most deadly and destructive hurricanes in American history. The flood defences failed, flooding the Crescent City for weeks. Lives were lost and lives were shattered. Many displaced musicians felt compelled to return to the chaos and bleak confusion to play again. This is the story of some who made it back, told in their own words. MT
ONE NOTE AT A TIME has won numerous international and domestic festival awards including BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY at Studio City International Film Festival, GOLD WINNER at Los Angeles Film Review Industry Awards, BEST DOCUMENTARY at Nottingham International Film Festival and three awards at the Oxford International Film Festival including FILM OF THE FESTIVAL.

ONE NOTE AT A TIME 2018 marks the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans.

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