A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I know it’s almost summer break and some of us already got too excited to do their school work, so here I am sharing how I spent two evenings efficiently and full of fun.
On April 11 and 12, a film festival was held at Leiden University College The Hague, of which the theme was “Exploring Taiwan, Taiwanese-ness and Taiwanese identity through cinema”. As a student from mainland China majoring in World Politics, I am very interested in knowing more about this beautiful island that has been (and is now) undergoing complicated political events. And a few days before the film festival, Dr. Hwang, the instructor of Nations and Nationalism (one of the courses I’m taking at the moment), encouraged us to go to the festival and explore about nationalism and national identity in Taiwan. Dr. Hwang told us that the student bar would be open and there would be free drinks. April 11 and 12 were Friday and Saturday. Free drinks, weekend procrastination, extracurricular study. Let’s just go and watch some nice Taiwanese movies!
On April 11, there were many audiences at the festival. I went there with a good friend. The movie shown on that evening was “A City of Sadness”. This movie offers a very dense description on what happened during the February 28 Incident in 1947. It is slightly complicated and confusing; nevertheless, I did some research on the theme of this movie and the historical event, and to some extent this movie perfectly shows the struggle on Taiwan islands after the Second World War. I got the chance to ask questions about some details about the movie, which really excited me because it felt like a class seminar at school.
What I expected the most was a controversial movie called “Lust, Caution”, shown on the eveing of April 12. It was such a buzzword in 2007 that everyone knew and talked about it in mainland China. As can be assumed from the title, it has a certain number of erotic scenes, which were censored in quite some countries, and were criticized for its over-exposition on sex and immoral relationships between people. To be honest, I really disliked the erotic parts, which were unnecessarily long, and not very constructive to the whole movie. Despite those weird techniques and commercialization in this movie, the confusion and deep thinking over identity, war, and human relationships were very well expressed through the plot. The famous Taiwanese directer of this film, Ang Lee, also directed Sense and Sensibility (1995), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), and Life of Pi (2012). He was good at sketching the beauty of humanity in his films, which brought him success, fame, and a lot of respect in film directing, and other fields as well. I discussed with Dr. Hwang and Dr. Taylor-Jones (who introduced this movie to the audience) about whether Ang Lee had political expressions in Lust, Caution as well.
Not impressed? Let me make a short list about why I am writing a post about it in a nutshell.
1) Free movies, free drinks, and a chance to talk with scholars in cinema studies, politics, sociology etc etc.
2) Those were good movies directed and produced by well-known people.
3) I actually attained knowledge, especially on Nations and Nationalism, from the film festival.
4) It was happening at my college! I learned so much more about Taiwan without having to visit it in person.
5) I socialized! (Just kidding 😉 )
Check out the website of the film festival if you are interested (hopefully): http://spotlighttaiwanleiden.weebly.com/film.html
P.S. Oh I almost forgot: there were photo exhibitions as well! … and free luck bags 🙂
by Xueyan Xing (coming all the way from China; studying at Leiden University College The Hague)