For its fifth anniversary, the Taiwan Film Festival of Boston is bringing six Taiwanese films — three dramas, one dark comedy, a documentary, and an animated film — to the AMC Boston Common 19 Sept. 23 and 24. This year’s theme is “Faces of Life,” featuring films that consider identity, self-discovery, and relationships.
“It’s about believing that each person is unique,” said Tina Lee, president of the Taiwan Film Festival of Boston. “Human beings are like these collective dust particles in the universe, and each human being is a unique focal point of the world.”
With the films being shown this year — “Day Off,” “Coo-Coo 043,” “Can You Hear Me?,” “The Lucky Woman,” “City of Lost Things,” and “Blue Gate Crossing” — Lee “wants to let the world know that [Taiwan is] not just [the tech giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company] TSMC. We’re not just the industry. We’re a group of loving people who share the same values with the American people, the people who believe in democracy,” said Lee.
Day 1 of the festival kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 23 with “Day Off,” a 2023 drama directed by Tien-Yu Fu. The film follows the human relationships that blossom in a Taiwanese barbershop owned by A-Rui, a woman who befriends all her customers. “The barbershop is not only acting as a neighborhood center. … They’re taking care of each other, not just doing haircuts. That’s, kind of, sharing the Taiwanese spirit,” said Lee.
At 12:40 p.m., Fu will speak about her film in a panel discussion moderated by April Ranck Guzman and J. Alberto Guzman, founders of the Arlington International Film Festival.
Screening at 1:40 p.m. is “Coo-Coo 043,” a 2022 drama directed by Ching Lin Chan that paints a complex family portrait with pigeon racing as the backdrop. “It has very beautiful cinematography,” said Lee of the award-winning film. “It has this magic brush that’s kind of painted across different scenes.”
Director Nien-Hsiu Li’s dark comedy, “Can You Hear Me?,” will screen at 4:15 p.m.. The award-winning short follows a family’s last moments with their deceased patriarch, a farewell that comes with both heavy hearts and laughter.
Day 1 of the festival concludes with a reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency of Boston Ballroom. Tsung-Hao Ku, a Taiwanese Berklee College of Music alumnus, leads an ensemble of Boston music students’ performance during the reception. Food, drinks, traditional Taiwanese snacks, and Taiwanese souvenirs will also be available.
Day 2 of the festival begins with a 10 a.m. screening of “The Lucky Woman,” a 2020 documentary directed by Wen-Chen Tseng that follows two undocumented immigrants from Vietnam who live and work in Taiwan as “runaway migrant workers.” After the showing, Tseng will be in conversation with Nam Pham, the former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants, at an 11:30 a.m. panel discussion.
At 12:30 p.m., director Chih-Yen Yee’s “City of Lost Things” will be shown. This 2020 animated film tells the story of Leaf, a teenage boy who befriends a plastic bag. As the bag leads him through “Trash City,” a place populated by items forgotten or left behind, Leaf discovers his own purpose.
The final showing of the festival is Yee’s “Blue Gate Crossing” at 2:20 p.m., a 2002 drama about a young girl coming to terms with her sexuality as she falls in love for the first time. Afterward, Yee will speak during a panel discussion with Hudson Yang, leading actor in the ABC television series “Fresh Off the Boat,” and his father, writer and journalist Jeff Yang.
One- and two-day passes are sold out, but viewers can purchase tickets to individual films for $15. Tickets for the reception on Saturday, Sept. 23, are $100. taiwanfilmfest.org
Elena Giardina can be reached at email@example.com.