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Anthology Film Archive to Present “TAIWAN B-MOVIES” Series, Shining a Spotlight on an Overlooked Era of Taiwanese Cinema History

  • Date:2020-11-26

From December 2nd to 15th, Anthology Film Archive in New York will present “Taiwan B-Movies” series, featuring five representative films and the 2005 documentary TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES(台灣黑電影), online for free. The series shine a spotlight on a realm of Taiwanese cinema that has been largely overlooked. Statistics show that a total of 117 of these genre films were released as crime films between 1979 and 1983. “Taiwan B-Movies” succeeded in short time but disappeared quickly. Accordingly, “New Taiwan Cinema” era has come with renowned reputation since 1980s.

Five Taiwan B-movies includes NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT(錯誤的第一步, 1979), THE LADY AVENGER(瘋狂女煞星, 1981), ON THE SOCIETY FILE OF SHANGHAI(上海社會檔案, 1981), WOMAN REVENGER(女性的復仇, 1982), and THE CHALLENGE OF THE LADY NINJA(女忍者, 1983). The genre films were mostly based on appalling true stories, involving gangster, violence and sex. The victimization of women is also a key theme throughout many of the films, giving rise to a sub-genre of shockingly frank rape-revenge films. These films were so visually stunning that dominated Taiwan’s domestic box office at that time.

TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES’ producer Kelly Yang once said that, “It is useful to recall the historical context in which the Taiwanese B-movie emerged. During the late 70s and early 80s, Taiwan was undergoing a transitional crisis as political power shifted away from the aging CHIANG Kai-Shek, who eventually died in 1975. As the world suffered the Second Oil Shock of 1979, and the U.S. ended its official relations with Taiwan, the country saw the rise of political opposition to the ruling Nationalist Party that resulted in the Formosa Incident and the subsequent murders of an opposition politician’s family…As a result, Taiwanese society was swept by anxiety and restlessness. NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT, released in 1979, was the first film to feature prison and prostitution in the story’s setting. Its dark imagination and interpretation of crime reflected a sense of people’s collective fear. Two years later, ON THE SOCIETY FILE OF SHANGHAI (1981) ’s visual impact of rape, nudity and brutality was a direct echo of Taiwanese society’s underlying fear of being dominated by the powerful.”

For better understanding the historical background of the Taiwan B-Movies, Anthology Film Archive invites TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES’ director Hou Chi-jan, producer Kelly Yang, film critic Cho Ting-wu, as well as contemporary artist Su Hui-yu to talk to the audience in pre-recorded introductions. Su’s latest work “The Women's Revenge” happens to be inspired by Taiwan B-movies. The artist reimagines the films and incorporates his childhood memory of watching these films, creating a newly conceived revenge plan in 2020.

“Taiwan B-Movies” has been co-organized by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (TFAI) and Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, and is supported by the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York. For more information, please visit Anthology Film Archive's website: Anthology Film Archives : Film Screenings.