Hebei Taipei

- TAIWAN / 2015 / Chinese / Color / DCP / 88 min

Director, Editing, Producer: Li Nien-hsiu
Photography: Liu Shih I, Li Nien-hsiu
Source: Li Nien-hsiu

Li Chung-hsiao was born in 1927 in Hebei, China. When he was still a child, his father was murdered, and he left his home village, drifting from one place to the next. He joined the Nationalist troops during the Chinese Civil War and survived fierce battles. After the defeat, he changed over to the Communist Party of China, and was captured in the Korean War when he was sent as a reinforcement combatant. He has never been back to his hometown since he started living in Taiwan under the Nationalist government. This film is a memoir of Li’s turbulent past, made by his daughter, who carefully interviewed him to retrace the footsteps of his memory. The colorful recollections of a verbally abusive, outrageous, but somehow lovable man.

[Director’s Statement] To me, his daughter, my father was impossible to understand, like a high mountain.

I was prompted to tackle this film by a promise I made my father to tell his story to the world. Since then, I spent fifteen years continuously recording his life.

At the time when I first started filming, I wondered whether his life history as he told it was fictitious. However through the homecoming my father was unable to complete—the more than 5,000 kilometer journey I filmed from Taipei to Hebei and Shanxi provinces in China and on to Korea—I came to truly recognize that it was I who knew nothing.

While traveling we felt the rhythm of the rapidly changing times as the fading footprints of our ancestors appeared before our eyes. What we witnessed were the kinds of things that disappear from memory, in the same way that water which once flowed from a now filled-in well seems never to have existed. That is not all. We also saw how no one can prevent time from keeping its hand in life, age, sickness, and death.

I am grateful to everyone who shared their stories with us in this film. They have allowed the next generation to get a glimpse of one part of the course of history. I also thank my father and mother who gave their daughter this opportunity to know them. Through making this film, the estranged relationship between parents and child became instantly closer. As they say, “when a parent has already passed, wanting to have been more dutiful when they were alive,” is a regrettable condition to find oneself in, nevertheless that “high mountain” who was my father will remain in my heart forever. He helped me to realize that, in order to know how I should live out my life, I need to know my origins.

- Li Nien-hsiu

Li Nien-hsiu began her documentary career with the 2009 short film Rush which was highly acclaimed for its experimental expressive style. It was nominated for the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival and for the Golden Harvest Awards in Taiwan. As a film editor Li has worked on numerous documentaries and feature films including The Long Goodbye (2010), Young at Heart: Grandma Cheerleaders (2011, YIDFF 2011), Mayday 3DNA (2011), Go Grandriders (2012), Partners in Crime (2014). Her documentary film Hip-Hop Storm (2010) was nominated in the Best Film Editing category at the 47th Taipei Golden Horse Awards in 2010. Li began writing screenplays at about the same time. She was both film editor and scriptwriter for the 2012 feature film Touch of Light. In 2000 she began shooting her current film which documents her father’s extraordinary life.