Open lecture by Ming-Ye Rawnsley on Taiwanese film and screening of the documentary film The Lost Kingdom
Taiwanese-language cinema of the 1950s and the 1960s had a neglected history until the process of democratization in Taiwan invoked a renewed interest in local traditions and cultural legacies. However it is difficult to research the subject as many films and original materials have been lost forever. This paper aims to tease out a forgotten film history that is yet to be widely covered in English literature by studying the Hua-Xing Film Studio (1949–1963), the first privately-run Taiwanese film production company, as well as a prominent filmmaker, Xin Qi (1924–2010). The two central questions the author tackles are: How did Taiwanese-language filmmakers negotiate the pressure from the state and the market under martial law? What can we learn about the paradigm of national versus transnational from Taiwan’s early film industry?
Dr Ming-yeh T. Rawnsley is Research Associate, Centre of Taiwan Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She is also Secretary-General, European Association of Taiwan Studies (EATS, 2012–present). She worked as a researcher at the University of Nottingham (1999–2005) and became Head of Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (2005–2007). Before she joined SOAS, Dr Rawnsley researched and taught East Asian film industries at the University of Leeds (2007–2013). She has published widely in both English and Chinese on Chinese-language cinema and media and democratisation in Taiwan. She is a founding member of The International Journal of Taiwan Studies, jointly supported by EATS and Academia Sinica in Taiwan. Her most recent publications include (eds with Gary Rawnsley) Routledge Handbook of Chinese Media (2015) and (eds with Kuei-fen Chiu and Gary Rawnsley) Taiwan Cinema: International Reception and Social Change (2017).
The Lost Kingdom (director Lee Hsiang-Hsiu, 1999, 98 minutes) traces the rise and fall of the Kung Le Society, one of the most prominent Taiwanese opera troupes to emerge after Japanese Rule. The film compiles archive footage, photos, and rare interviews with former troupe members, telling the story of how entertainment mogul Chen Cheng-San led his troupe to success, transforming the traditional folk opera into mainstream entertainment. However, with the advent of television, and the Nationalist government’s policy of banning any language other than Mandarin in public places, the troupe gradually declined until it eventually dissolved.
The film screening is part of the Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative’s Office sponsored project “Taiwan’s Lost Commercial Cinema: Recovered and Restored” that involves screening films in the UK and in other European countries. For more information please visit the web site: https://taiyupian.uk