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The New York Asian Film Festival Unveils Taiwan Ghost Month, Celebrating a New Era of Terror

Taipei Cultural Center (TCC) in New York is pleased to collaborate with the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) to present a ten-day virtual series of horror films in celebration of Taiwan’s Ghost Month. The series, as part of TCC in New York’s 30th Anniversary program, will serve as a refreshing conclusion to NYAFF’s 20th edition during these scorching summer days.

The Taiwan Ghost Month series will start immediately after NYAFF’s main course on August 23rd and showcase seven standout genre films, available virtually throughout the United States.

As NYAFF Executive Director Samuel Jamier notes, “Asian movies have helped forge the gold standard of horror. Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong boast some of the most frightening films in the history of world cinema. While Taiwan seems to have flown under the radar, its horror films, with their pervasively sinister atmospherics, not to mention a singular vision of vengeful ghosts, have proven to be a major force to be reckoned with in the past few years.”

This series showcases a constellation of domestic box-office hits from recent years that have been critically praised for incorporating Taiwanese folklore, Chinese mythology, contemporary social issues, and historical tragedies into their succinctly unnerving narratives. TCC adds, the series also reflects the surge of Taiwanese genre films in recent years, among which horror/ghost films make up the most burgeoning one. 

Taiwan’s Ghost Month is observed in the 7th month of the lunar calendar, which is from August 8th to September 6th this year.

The seven films in the series are:

Detention, directed by John Hsu, is an official selection of NYAFF 2020. An adaptation carved from a survival horror video game, it’s also the first mainstream take on the island’s traumatizing White Terror era in the 1960s, during which thousands were executed. The film won awards in five categories at the 2019 Golden Horse Awards in Taipei.

Get the Hell Out, directed by Wang I-Fan, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, is a scathingly hilarious critique of political dysfunction in which a zombie virus permeates parliament, with wild martial arts antics and a brash young female politician who may be the government’s best hope for survival.

The Heirloom, directed by Leste Chen, is an aesthetically exquisite haunted house shocker whose impressive deployment of creepy atmospherics, dread, and impressive visuals proved to be a Taiwan cinematic game-changer in 2005.

Mon Mon Mon Monsters, directed by Giddens Ko, premiered at NYAFF 2017. Renaissance man Ko pulled out all the stops in this outrageous mash-up of a college bully dramedy and a wild SFX-laden monster thriller that is out of this world.

The Rope Curse, directed by Liao Shih-Han. Taiwan’s already classic take on the found-footage genre features unsympathetic teenage protagonists, odd comic relief, and preternaturally eerie nighttime locations that will make even the most jaded horror fan afraid of the dark.

Silk, directed by Su Chao-Bin. Screened out of competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, this intriguing tale of a group of young ghost hunters (led by the uber-charismatic Chang Chen) chronicles their misguided attempts to use paranormal alchemy to capture the daunting spirit of a dead child.

The Tag-Along, directed by Cheng Wei-hao, premiered at NYAFF 2016. Inspired by an actual viral video, The Tag-Along was a huge sleeper hit. A video of a group of hikers followed by a ghostly little girl in red evolves into tales of supernatural havoc unleashed upon the unsuspecting living.

The Taiwan Ghost Month Series runs from August 23rd to September 1st. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit NYAFF’s official website:

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2021 TAIWANfest debuts in Canada
2021 TAIWANfest is about to debut in Toronto and Vancouver. This year, the Festival continues the dialogue with Asia Series, Re-Think Asia, and offers more than 20 online programs. There will also be an in-person concert and exhibition in Vancouver. Toronto TAIWANfest begins August 27, 2021, and Vancouver TAIWANfest starts on September 2.

Each year, TAIWANfest attracts more than ten thousand attendees. For the past two years, although in-person programs have been moved online due to the pandemic, it has remained very popular among Canadian audiences. This year, TAIWANfest offers a great variety of programs, starting with the opening ceremony, which includes the Opening Concert, led by the conductor, Maestro Ken Hsieh, and the TAIWANfest Orchestra. Everyone is welcome to watch the concert online, and Vancouverites can also attend the concert in person at the Orpheum Theater.

Other online programs include a song titled “Healing for Damaged Emotions” that a Taiwanese musician, Suana Emuy Cilangasay, and a Cree Artist, Kent Monkman, co-wrote to call upon all Taiwanese to reflect on lessons from Canada. In Cultures Fermented, illustrator Chin-Wen Cheng believes that the theme provides a very interesting contrast, which is fully and exquisitely expressed in his artwork. Hope Talks invites many Taiwanese experts on arts and culture to share their views of different aspects of Taiwan, such as “Taiwan, A View with South Korea in Mind,” in which Rex How uses his insight as a publisher and author to introduce seven books to guide audiences through an understanding of the differences between Taiwan and South Korea, their people, and their futures. In “Mountains, Seas, and Plains,” Chairman of the Chen Cheng-Po Cultural Foundation, Li-Po Chen, tells his grandfather’s story and gets to know Taiwan through the island’s natural beauty. In “Their World of Music,” the founder of Crystal Records, Jang Dal Im upholds the rule-breaking spirit of rock and roll, analyzes the fundamental problems faced by music development after globalization, and explores the “third path” to return music to its essence. Filming for “Small Talk,” from Taiwanese Film Director Hui-Chen Huang, provides the opportunity for her mother and herself to face the unspoken past and mend their relationship in order to start anew. “May Sea Turtles be with you... Always,” by Taiwanese Film Director, Chin-yuan Ke, addresses environmental issues. There are also a few in-person programs, including “Rethink Asia, Dialogue through Comedy” at Annex Theater and the aforementioned Cultures Fermented at the Vancouver Art Gallery in North Plaza.

Asian-Canadian Special Events Association (ACSEA) is a Vancouver-based non-profit organization that creates sustainable art and cultural projects and works with partners throughout British Columbia, Canada, and the world. From its humble beginnings as the Music Night of Taiwanese Composers in 1990, TAIWANfest has grown to become the largest English/Mandarin bilingual cultural festival in all of Canada, and the largest event held outside the island nation to bear the name “Taiwan.” The annual summer event takes place in downtown Vancouver, attracting over 350,000 visitors.

TAIWANfest is supported by the Spotlight Taiwan project, which is designed and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan. Its aim is to promote Taiwanese culture, arts and cinema to a wider audience around the world.

To see the full summer programs for 2021 TAIWANfest, please visit the following Vancouver and Toronto websites for further information and links.

Toronto TAIWANfest: August 27-September 6
Vancouver TAIWANfest : September 2-12

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