An Interview with Chen Liang-feng (Director)
The Important Thing Is the Process of Filming
Q: The section where the history of the first Three Fork Village is told in the Tayal language left a strong impression.
CL: This film is the story of a village that was forced to relocate because of the earthquake. But, these people had relocated to Three Fork Village fifty years earlier. It felt like they’re fated to move. So, I wanted to use that in the opening when I completed the film. I don’t speak the Tayal language, but I interviewed elders about the village history, and since Tayal doesn’t have a written language, first I put it into Chinese, then a friend who understands Tayal put it into Tayal, then I rendered it in Japanese katakana script, and had an elderly woman read it.
Q: What made you want to make a film about Three Fork Village?
CL: Most aboriginal tribes live high in the mountains. One of my hobbies is mountain climbing, and I was interested since I’d encountered them from my university days. And my role in FullShot was teaching documentary production methods to ordinary people, one of the FullShot projects. When I visited different areas in Taiwan, there were many unique tribal people among the applicants. In fact, on the day of the earthquake I was up in the mountains, and didn’t know the situation until I descended. After I got down, I immediately became worried about the people in the Peace River area, and headed there by car. The ten tribal villages in the Peace River area sustained the most severe earthquake damage, including Three Fork Village. I thought it would be impossible to live there. Then, at a FullShot meeting to decide what to film in the disaster area, I proposed that we document the situation at Three Fork Village, since important issues like relocating the village were bound to come up.
Q: You introduce Lin Jian-zhi’s story in the beginning, but why did you document the relocation of the village instead of his story?
CL: I thought the most important issue to cover was the village relocation, and he had the same idea. He thought that government subsidies and dependence on other people was going to be “poison” for Three Fork Village, like with other villages that had already relocated, and he said they needed to work toward self-sufficiency. I thought the big picture would be easier to see if I approached the theme of the village relocation through his ideals. That way, it could be useful for people dealing with the same problem in the future. So that’s what I focused on as I filmed.
Q: What are your plans for dealing with the disaster area in the future, as well as other projects?
CL: Jian-zhi, the Peace River area Labor Center staff and I share the idea of “self-sufficiency,” and we’re doing a program to read books to children, as you saw in the film. Also, I’m thinking of showing the film to other aboriginal villages that are dealing with the issue of relocating. There are a lot of young people who go to the city, get frustrated and return, just like Jian-zhi. We’re talking about showing this film to young people, and if we can have them discuss their responses, then we can share the idea of self-sufficiency among aboriginal villages that were hit by the earthquake. And I took notes on the process of shooting the film, so I want to put that together into a book.
As a director, I thought a lot about my relationship with the people being filmed. I think the important thing in documentaries is the process of filming, so I want to bring the production notes together into a publication. On the fifth year after the earthquake, I screened a rough cut of the film to the village residents to help cheer them up. I put up a white sheet and screened it at the former Three Fork Village, which had already been turned into a vacant plot of land. At that time, five years of various problems had resulted in ill will among the villagers, and this was released when everyone saw the film and laughed and cried together. It was really good, because people were able to reach an understanding with one another.
(Compiled by Kusunose Kaori)
Interviewers: Kusunose Kaori, Masuya Shoko / Interpreter: Yoshii Takashi
Photography: Saito Kenta / Video: Saito Kenta / 2005-10-12