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Taiwan’s indigenous peoples and cinema: From colonial mascot to Fourth Cinema?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPositioning Taiwan in a Global Context
Subtitle of host publicationBeing and Becoming
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429666582
ISBN (Print)9780367077129
Published1 Jan 2019

King's Authors


This chapter examines the history of the relationship between the indigenous people of Taiwan and the cinema as one trace of Taiwan’s changing identity. In the case of Taiwan, its indigenous peoples have symbolized the territory’s distinctness in cinema since some of the earliest films were made on the island. Key landmarks include the Japanese film Sayon’s Bell (Shimizu Hiroshi, 1943), which celebrates the supposed civilization of the indigenous people by the colonizer and their supposed self-sacrificing loyalty to the colonizer. It was only in 1990 that Huang Ming-chuan’s international festival film Bodo became not only the first independent feature but also the first feature to focus on indigenous people not as mascots or symbols but as a community with distinct experiences and problems. More recently, the new genre-based popular cinema, embodied most evidently by the work of Wei Te-sheng, has returned to a focus on the indigenous population, but this time as signifying the difference of the island’s culture and history from that of China.

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