Trove of Taiwanese classic films donated to UW-Madison

November 10, 2010 By Dennis Chaptman

New 35mm prints of 30 of some of the most celebrated Chinese-language feature films have been donated to the University of Wisconsin–Madison by various film studios in Taiwan with the help of the Taiwanese government.

The gift, which will be made during the course of a three-year period, was announced at a news conference in Taipei as part of Chancellor Biddy Martin’s trip to Taiwan.

“Taiwanese cinema is a significant cultural force on the international scene and having access to these important and world-class films will broaden the study and appreciation of them and increase their exposure,” says Martin. “The international cooperation and cultural exchange that led to this gift is an example of the value that comes from universities acting on a global scale.”

The donation, funded by the Government Information Office of Taiwan,
consists of features from the 1980s and 1990s known as “New Taiwan Cinema.” It also includes recent feature films that make up what is being called the “Third Wave.” The first installment of the collection will arrive on campus next spring, to be showcased at the Wisconsin Film Festival and the Cinematheque’s regular programming. The films include “Cape No. 7,” “Parking,” “God, Man, Dog,” “Orz Boys,” and “Yang Yang.”

UW-Madison East Asian Languages and Literature professor Nicole Huang has worked tirelessly with professor Wenchi Lin, director of the Visual Culture Research Center and the Film Studies Center at National Central University of Taiwan, to make the gift possible.

“The films will be an invaluable asset to the university and the communities it serves, providing our researchers, students and community members with access to iconic feature films widely regarded as the very finest Chinese-language films ever made,” says Huang, who is also director of UW–Madison’s Center for East Asian Studies.

Huang also notes that the film donation project is a continuation of the center’s ongoing Taiwan Initiative. The center recently received a generous grant from the Ministry of Education of Taiwan to help establish a Taiwan Studies Program on campus.

Lin, an internationally renowned scholar of Taiwan cinema, curated the film collection. His goal was to promote Taiwan cinema beyond its borders and to encourage the research and teaching of these world-class films.

Prints of the films will come in three installments of 10 each, in the spring of each year through 2013. The prints will tour five major institutions in the U.S., including UCLA, Duke University and the University of Chicago, before finding a new home in Madison.

At the Taipei news conference, four campus units, including the
Center for East Asian Studies, the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater
Research, the Cinematheque program, and the Wisconsin Film Festival, were all named as partners in this international joint venture.

The films will be archived and managed by the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, where they will join an existing collection of international films, including 120 Taiwanese feature and documentary films in 16mm, which were donated in 2003 by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago.

“All of these films are highly sought after cultural treasures, both nationally and internationally, that will be just down the road from our UW students and scholars,” says Huang.