Bridging art and the mainstream : the cinema of Chang Tso-Chi
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This dissertation traces the development of New Taiwanese Cinema (NTC) in Taiwan's film system at the turn of the new millennium. Using Chang Tso-Chi's cinema as a case study, I argue that Chang represents the second-generation NTC directors who continue the movement started by the first-generation NTC directors that began filmmaking in the 1980s. Although many of the second-generation NTC directors have produced only a few films since the mid-1990s, Chang not only sustains extensive film production, he also has produced a significant number of films that won critical acclaim at international film festivals as well as garnered domestic audience's attention. These films demonstrate how the NTC has developed into a new phase that increasingly engages the local audience in conversations about narrative--how a story can be visually told and how to weave these conversations into discussions about social issues. This active engagement with local audiences also appeals generally to audiences in other East Asian societies, especially those that share with Taiwan similar historical experiences of forced modernity in the twentieth century. Chang's films target audiences in East Asian societies, portraying Taiwan as a unique culture in a globalizing world. In the first chapter, I examine Chang's use of cut or fade to black with other continuity editing techniques to show why his films are critically acclaimed at East Asian film festivals. In the second chapter, I investigate how elements of magic realism that Chang uses in his film helped spur a resurgence of local reception. In the third chapter, I situate Chang's film in the discussion on the creation of Taiwanese identity, a movement that receives intense attention among Taiwanese young adults. Chang's cinema offers us an indispensable reference point for understanding the evolution of filmmaking in local film markets in East Asia. As globalization continues in the first half of the twenty-first century, Chang's cinema showcases how a new kind of auteur can sustain filmmaking in terms of both finances and aesthetics. He represents his generation's search for a new strategy and style of filmmaking for the new epoch in East Asian cinema.