Almost Propaganda But Not Quite: Identity, Modernity and the Construction of ‘The Native’ in Gift of Life and Viva Tonal

  • Hsien-Hao Sebastian Liao


Since the late 1990s, there has been a peculiar boom of documentary films (what I call the ‘New Documentary Movement’) in Taiwan, amidst the general decline of feature film production.1 The boom carries such momentum that, in order to take advantage of it, a biennial international festival of documentary films was created in 1998, complete with various prizes. The cause of this boom is a subject still waiting to be thoroughly explored, though given that the New Documentary Movement, which began in 1988,2 closely followed the unfolding of the Nativization Movement (bentuhua yundong) in Taiwan in the mid-1980s — a movement that sought to distinguish Taiwanese culture from the mainland Chinese — a facile explanation would be to ascribe this odd phenomenon to the rise of the so-called ‘native consciousness’ during this period, an explanation this chapter seeks to unpack. A comparison with Taiwan’s New Cinema Movement, which began in 1982 with The Story of Time (Jiao 1990: 21), would reveal a picture more complex than such simple interpretations allow.


Democratic Progressive Party Documentary Film Taiwanese Society Cinema Movement Chinese Nationalism 
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© Hsien-Hao Sebastian Liao 2011

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  • Hsien-Hao Sebastian Liao

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