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3RD LONDON TAIWAN CINEFEST KICKS OFF WITH "7 DAYS IN HEAVEN"
The 3rd edition of the London Taiwan Cinefest kicked off yesterday with a great buzz and numbers in attendance. The opening film is the small indie debut of both its' directors, Wang Yu-lin and Essay Liu (respectively also producer and writer).
The film has previously been shown at the Hong Kong film festival where it got a good amount of attention and praise, even impressing Hollywood Reporter, as can be evidenced by their review - http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/seven-days-heaven-film-review-29438
The film goes from uproariously funny - a Taiwanese Daoist priest performs solemn rites to the accelerating beat of "Hava Nagila" - to wistfully sad, Essay Liu and Wang Yu-lin's funeral comedy brings the colour and absurdity of rural Taiwan religious rituals to vivid life.
When adult daughter Mei returns to her father's village for his funeral, she encounters a tightly-knit community of family and some odd neighbours (the smoothly professional mourning weeper, the self-promoting politician). Together with her brother Da-zhi and cousin Zhuang, they work through the exhausting, but strangely comforting, seven-day long traditional funeral observance. Although the traditions look foreign, even strange to us, the feelings underlying them are universal.
I was able to catch up with one of the film's directors, Essay Liu, just before the screening and have a little chat.
Essay Liu is a writer with experience in journalism, having graduated from university with a degree majoring in Journalism and a post-grad in Taiwanese literature. She has always enjoyed watching films and began writing scripts and short stories. One of those stories was "Seven Days in Heaven", having won a prize, it got noticed by a production company who decided to make it into a film. By her own admission, Essay Liu admits to being a "lazy" person, needing someone to always give her a little push and the producer and her co-director, Wang Yu-lin, gave her just that. She found the process of writing a script, directing and, now promoting the film as interesting, but hard work. She was very surprised by the Hollywood Reporter review, but also very pleased. Taiwanese cinema has always been stereotypically about romantic films and, she hopes that through her film being so different and her not being the only one to have been producing these smaller features with an interesting theme, that her film will inspire its' audience to seek out new independent Taiwanese cinema.
More about the festival, go to the official website - http://www.taiwancinefest.com/
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