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Report on CCS Activities
“2021 Taiwan Lectures on Taiwan Studies” Series — Taiwanese-Language Cinema as an Alternative Cinema of Poverty

NCL co-hosted the “Taiwan Lecture on Chinese Studies” Series with the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences on December 3, 2021. This time, NCL invited Prof. Chris Berry, to give us a talk on “Taiwanese-Language Cinema as an Alternative Cinema of Poverty”.

Prof. Chris Berry is the Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. In the 1980s, he worked for China Film Import and Export Corporation in Beijing as a translator. Prior to his current appointment, he taught at La Trobe University in Melbourne, The University of California, Berkeley, and Goldsmiths, University of London. His curating work includes the 2011 Cultural Revolution in Cinema season in Vienna (with Katja Wiederspahn) and the 2017 Taiwan’s Lost Commercial Cinema: Recovered and Restored project on taiyupian (with Ming-Yeh Rawnsley).

This talk proposes approaching Taiwanese-language films as an alternative “cinema of poverty”. Where Jerzy Grotowski proposed a “theatre of poverty” as a high modernist stripping down to the essentials of an art form, Taiwanese-language cinema is another kind of cinema of poverty. It is characterized by the adoption of methods designed to maximize audience appeal in the shortest production time possible and with the fewest resources. These methods include ingenious improvisation and an exuberant practice of “grabbism” — borrowing plot, music, and anything else that works from overseas to produce a distinctive and lively bricolage.

Due to the spreading of the Omicron variant in Europe, this lecture was held online via YouTube and hosted by Dr. Táňa Dluhošová (Director, the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences).