Taiwan Face-To-Face

Travel Short Film (Taiwan / 2017)

To know what a country really is like you have to see it with your own eyes ...
but to get an idea have a look through mine!
From September 2016 to January 2017 I had the exciting opportunity to travel for several months around the East Asian island of Taiwan. I decided to use the occasion to create a video about its complex society and natural beauty. I did not want to film another generic "Travel Video" as are commonplace on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, which often fail to provide sufficient cultural context. Instead, I aimed to create a video that represents Taiwan and introduces its people as well as its urban and natural environments as I experienced them.

I have a very deep and intimate connection with Taiwan that reaches all the way back to my early childhood when my family moved from Germany to Taiwan for two years. Taiwan became the first real home I have memories of and Chinese was, in fact, my first mother tongue. Over the years, my Taiwanese childhood friends became part of my family and the Taiwanese culture and lifestyle became a deeply ingrained part of my identity. This personal connection with Taiwan, paired with the fact that I never considered the Taiwanese culture to be strange or exotic, offered me the ideal starting point to take a deep dive into both its visible and hidden beauties, without concealing some of the uglier aspects of Taiwanese society.

Being extremely lucky to still have friends in Taiwan who helped me wherever they could, I was able to get an intimate and indigenous perspective on local life. Without the dedication of my friends, I would, for example, not have been able to film a master of calligraphy at work, nor would I have succeeded in capturing traditional face painting and dancing in the temple of Lukang. I would have missed out on lesser-known but gorgeous locations and would have never been able to create the film I set out to create. It was extremely important to me to not visit Taiwan as a “Tourist” and even though I was always treated as one (as an „ethnic European“ in Taiwan one is usually regarded as foreign by default) I never actually assumed this role. I believe it is for this reason that I was able to produce a video that does not reinforce the stereotype of an exotic and romanticized Asia.

A suspension bridge in the Alishan Mountains. Image taken from the video "Taiwan Face-To-Face" by Tiemo Weidemann.

A suspension bridge in the Alishan Mountains

The Fo Guang Shan Monastery close to Kaohsiung. Image taken from the video "Taiwan Face-To-Face" by Tiemo Weidemann.

The Fo Guang Shan Monastery close to Kaohsiung

Taiwan is without a doubt a mesmerizing place, but it is not a perfect paradise. Its scenery is not defined by temples hidden behind waterfalls, nor by monks praying against the backdrop of a rising sun. I did not want to make a video that feeds into these occidental clichés of what characterizes an East Asian country, I just wanted to show Taiwan as it is. After the publication of "Taiwan Face-To-Face", for example, I often got criticized for my choice of music for this video. Many western viewers consider the soundtrack to be too technical, soulless or even commercial and, hence, argue that it does not fit the images shown. None of the Taiwanese viewers, however, have found fault with the music. It was an active decision of mine to not use a romantic, traditionally Chinese melody, with the goal that viewers of the video are forced to leave their romanticized ideas – at least partially – behind.

All in all, it was a beautiful journey that means so much to me. I want to thank all the people who helped me along the way and made this video possible. I hope that "Taiwan Face-To-Face" inspires some people to travel to Taiwan and experience it through their own eyes.

Additional Material

Traditional Taiwanese Face Painting & Ritual

Traditional Taiwanese Calligraphy

Behind the scenes

  • Tiemo Weidemann and his girlfriend in the rainbow village close to Taichung. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Camera in front of Taipei 101 while shooting a time lapse sequence. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Shooting a time lapse sequence of the Taipei 101.Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann filming the sea at a beach next to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann filming the sea at a beach close to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Shooting of a time lapse sequence in the Alishan Mountains in the heart of Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Shooting a time lapse sequence of the Taipei 101. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann prepared to go to the next shooting location by scooter. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann in front of a waterfall in the north of Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • A girl writing on a lantern in Pingxi, Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • A man holding a lantern in Pingxi, Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann while filming a hyperlapse sequence at the Fo Guang Shan Monastery close to Kaohsiung. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann while filming a hyperlapse sequence at the Fo Guang Shan Monastery close to Kaohsiung. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann with a group of traditional Taiwanese dancers in Lukang, Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann filming a fisherman in Lukang, Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Tiemo Weidemann filming a fisherman in Lukang, Taiwan. Photographed during the filming of Taiwan Face-To-Face.
  • Projection of Taiwan Face-To-Face on the building of Ventre Privee in Paris

    Recognition

    "Taiwan Face-To-Face" was featured on the Facebook Page of National Geographic Travel

    National Geographic Logo

    "Taiwan Face-To-Face" was featured in an article on Matador Network

    Matador Network Logo

    Credits

    DIRECTED, FILMED and EDITED by Tiemo Weidemann
     
    THANKS TO:
    Laura Lupinetti
    粘菁云
    蘇明玲
    聞名畫廊
    法玄壇
     
    And all the other wonderful people who've helped me on this journey
     
     
    MUSIC (licensed through premiumbeat.com):
    Forever Undefeated by Score Squad

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