BEHIND THE WORK
The first year of our Dialogue with Asia series, 2016, TAIWANfest opened dialogue with Hong Kong. At that time, both Taiwan and Hong Kong were still fresh from the echoes of recent ground-shaking democratic movements: the Sunflower Student Movement and the Umbrella Revolution, where the younger generation marched towards an ideal world with unparalleled determination. They formed their own political parties and found victory in the elections. That year, in downtown Vancouver, TAIWANfest created an exhibition called “The Face Cultures.” The idea of saving face is prevalent throughout Asia, but this exhibition strives to unmask the people’s unrest at the governments’ injustice. That exhibition is the first time these seniors’ stories were spoken about…
In the era of the White Terror, the youth on the island were organizing and operating in secret, fearless in the face of oppressive power. In Canada at the same time, there was also a group of Taiwanese people sprinting forwards for this silenced island.
Shya-Fen Tsai returned from America with an answering machine dubbed “Voice of Taiwan,” allowing the Taiwanese students studying abroad in Canada at the time to finally hear the situation within the island through the hotline; in Toronto, Albert Lin held a “Taiwanese URM Training Camp,” training many Taiwanese youth in non-violent methods of protest, prompting many social movement leaders to fly to Canada for this camp (the Destruction of Wu Feng Statue was a movement by some of the URM students); the Taiwan Foundation of Vancouver worked hard to fundraise in solidarity with Lim Gi-hiong and other democratic movement leaders within the island;
This group of people travelled often to Seattle’s Taiwan office to protest, garnering the attention of western countries to exert pressure on Chiang Kai Shek, only to be registered on The Blacklist, unable to return home…
These stories, not only were they erased from the history textbooks of Taiwan, they were barely even recorded or mentioned at all.
In 2019, indie band Sorry Youth was invited to perform at TAIWANfest, where they encountered these seniors’ stories. These missing memories of Taiwan’s post-war democracy, trapped overseas and unspoken, left a searing impression on the band’s members. With their recent years of learning and participating in several social movements, Sorry Youth put their feelings about their encounter in Canada into a song, “Justice in Time,” included in their latest album, Bad Times, Good Times.
At 2021 TAIWANfest, we’ve chosen to create a short animated film to tell the stories of these unsung heroes, to record those unseen moments of incredible courage, to remember those actions of unsurmountable perseverance, to capture and reveal to the world the sincere hope and truth they cannot hide even now, in their age-worn and weary bodies.
These stories do not end -- even in this democratic age, countless Taiwanese-Canadians continue to fight for their island home; across the ocean, they raise their voices for Taiwan, encouraging the next generation to move ever further forwards.These stories do not end -- even in this democratic age, countless Taiwanese-Canadians continue to fight for their island home; across the ocean, they raise their voices for Taiwan, encouraging the next generation to move ever further forwards.
Now -- it is our turn to carry the torch!
Today we support each other,
Tomorrow new companions will join us,
This era will look after us, those who are united!