Hill of No Return (无言的山丘) & The Rhythm in Wulu Village (霧鹿高八度)

Hill of No Return (无言的山丘) & The Rhythm in Wulu Village (霧鹿高八度)

Sunday, April 8, 2007 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Auditorium (Room 101), Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 6511

– Free and open to the public. All films will be screened in DVD format in Chinese with English subtitles.

Hill of No Return (无言的山丘)
Directed by Wang T’ung (王童) (1992, 178 min)

The period of Japanese rule over Taiwan is still a potent memory for its residents, as is evidenced by this drama set in the 1920s. In the story, a couple of brothers are lured away from their everyday lives to work at a Japanese-run gold mine in the town of Chiu-fen. One of them falls in love with the housekeeper for the mine’s brothel, the other develops a cozy relationship with his landlady, an enterprising widow. Conditions in the town and at the mine are difficult enough to begin with, as the Japanese are harsh overlords. When they start raiding the brothel to conduct body searches of mine workers in order to try to find smuggled gold, the indignity of this leads to several violent protests by the miners and an even harsher crackdown by the authorities. Against this tumultuous background, the love story continues.

Special thanks to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York for providing the DVD for this screening.

The Rhythm in Wulu Village (霧鹿高八度)
Directed by Wang Chung-Shung (王俊雄) (2006, 75 min)

Wulu Village is a Bunun indigenous settlement located in the remote eastern mountainous region of Taiwan. The Bunun are famous among Taiwan’s indigenous groups for their polyharmonic choral signing, and almost all Bunun songs are sung in this style. In 1952, Japanese musicologist Takatomo Kurosawa presented the Bunun song, “Tribute to Having a Good Harvest” (also known as “Pasibutbut,” a song in the style of an octophonic chorus) to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. With its complex polyharmonic arrangement, “Pasibutbut” overturned Western musicologists’ theory that music was originally monotone, progressed to bitonality, and finally achieved polytonality.

Similar to many other indigenous peoples around the world, the Bunun are now faced with the danger that their culture and traditions will gradually disappear. Recognizing this problem, the Bunun people of Wulu have started the work of preserving their cultural heritage and passing it on to the younger generation. Traditional weaving skills, music, and language are taught in schools by Bunun teachers. The Bunun have also established a choir, which practices singing during members’ free time and performs in public at the invitation of various organizations around the world. Fearing that indigenous cultures will eventually be lost, Director Wang Chun-hsiung came to Wulu, trying to find answers to his many questions by interviewing local people. Over the course of filming these interviews, the director found his beliefs challenged and his heart moved.

This film was provided as part of the “Window on Taiwan” documentary series from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York.

Special thanks to the Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan for their support of this program.

This film series is part of the special events planned around the upcoming international conference TAIWAN AND ITS CONTEXTS.

For More Information

Co-sponsored by the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University, the Yale Taiwan Student Association, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York
China, Hong Kong, Taiwan