In Memory of the Chinatown

- TAIWAN / 2016 / Chinese / Color, B&W / Blu-ray / 30 min

Director, Script, Editing, Music, Animation: Chen Chun-Tien
Photography: Yang Chen-Yu, Chen Chun-Tien
Sound: Lin Bing-Chun, Chen Chun-Tien
Producer: Chang Jo-Han
Production Company: Graduate Institute of Studies in Documentary & Film Archiving, Tainan National University of the Arts
Source: Chen Chun-Tien

Tainan City’s so-called “Chinatown,” once a bustling residential and commercial complex established in the 1970s, is about to be torn down. In and around this building breathlessly awaiting its own destruction, security cameras record shuttered storefronts, and dogs sleep in their usual spots. Karaoke bar monitors shine to the sound of muttering microphones. The breathing of the ruin-like building resonates with the memories of former residents, while the current inhabitants speak of the neighborhood’s vibrant past as if mourning the dead. Each of their lives is a passing chapter in the history of this place.

- [Director’s Statement] The existence of a building is related to the kinetic and organic development of a certain time and space. From prosperity to impoverishment, from the well organized to the dilapidated, both outer causes (such as government and urban planning policy) and inner causes (circumstances of the residents) influence a building’s life and fortunes. No matter what kind of future it may face, these are the dynamic processes that build up the historical value of the building. This value is unlikely to—and should not—be wiped out if the building falls into ruin, is rebuilt, or becomes demolished.

That is why this film is largely composed using one photo after another, instead of moving images. Using moving images leads to a narrative form that keeps its pace in subjugation to the movement of time. The approach of using photographs—cutting up and sampling certain pieces of time—not only freezes the physical time flow, but also stirs up the audience’s mental sense of time. I decided I’d like to erect a monument in honor of “the Chinatown” in Tainan city, with images for stone columns, and the residents’ narratives as the epigraph. This is my attempt to commemorate the landscape of a place about to be lost.

- Chen Chun-Tien

Born in 1989, Taiwan. Chen Chun-Tien studies at the Tainan National University of the Arts, Graduate Institute of Studies in Documentary & Film Archiving. He has expanded his artistic domain to various fields including feature film, documentary, and animation. His work Sick Building Syndrome (2015) has been shown at festivals around world. Other films he has directed include Double Suicide (2014) and A Taste of Desire (2015).