The battle-ravaged Taiwanese islands are the protagonists of Reuters’ Oscar-nominated film


©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Anti-landing barricades on the beach with China’s Xiamen in the background in Kinmen, Taiwan, December 18, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo


By Ben Blanchard and Fabian Hamacher

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A film about the frontline Taiwanese islands, repeatedly fought over by China during the height of the Cold War, is in the running to win an Oscar this year, and the director hopes the attention will help explain better tensions over Taiwan to a wider audience.

Taiwanese-American director S. Leo Chiang’s 19-minute “Island in Between,” available to watch on YouTube, tells the story of Kinmen, a small group of islands hugging the coast of China.

Kinmen has been controlled by Taiwan since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, and was the scene of pitched battles in the 1950s as Beijing launched waves of attacks.

Chiang told Reuters he felt it was the right time to revisit the history of Kinmen, now a popular tourist destination, given China’s saber-rattling of Taiwan, including war drills in 2022 after then-U.S. House Speaker United States Nancy Pelosi had visited Taipei.

China claims that democratically governed Taiwan is part of its territory, despite the Taipei government’s objections.

“I think people are more interested in Taiwan than ever before, at least in a long, long time. We are definitely taking advantage of that interest,” Chiang said.

“Life is very normal here. People don’t exactly stand there fussing and tearing their hair out. But in Kinmen it’s a different story.”

Old bunkers and buildings riddled with bullet holes bear witness to Kinmen’s battle-scarred past, and the film opens with an abandoned tank half-submerged in the sand on a beach, its cannon pointing out to sea. Martial law ended on the islands only in 1992, five years later than in Taiwan.

Chiang, whose father served in the military on Kinmen in 1968, said he intended to use the island as a visual representation of tensions with China, but also to tell a story about what it means to be Taiwanese.

“At least for me, I still embrace my cultural, historical and ethnic connection to China, but in terms of national identity I am very vocal about being Taiwanese,” he added.

“Island in Between” is nominated for best documentary short. The Academy Awards ceremony will be held on March 10.

As for his next project, Chiang said he was considering making a film about the late and staunchly anti-Communist Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng, whose songs were broadcast in China from giant speakers on Kinmen and remain wildly popular throughout the Chinese-speaking world.

“I don’t think people understand how iconic she was,” he said.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *