By Tiffany Ran
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Director Heather Tsui’s debut film “Long Time No Sea” dives into the microcosm of a young Tao boy, Manawei (Chung Chia-chun), and his simple, yet impoverished life as he is raised by his grandmother on Orchid Island. Like many of his other peers, Manawei’s father works in Taiwan and he doesn’t get to see his father often. Manawei’s Taiwanese school teacher (Shang He-huang) decide to enroll his class in the National Aboriginal Dance Competition in Taiwan, where Manawei will have an opportunity to see his father again.
Without father figures, the young Tao boys struggle to embrace the traditional garb and learn the revered dance of their culture. Manawei’s teacher turns to a local radio show host (Zhang Ling) and community leaders in efforts to impart the importance of Tao traditions.
“Long Time No Sea” is based on Tsui’s experience with the Little Flying Fish Cultural Exhibition Dance Troupe and the Tao children on Orchid Island. The largely uplifting film provides much needed visibility to the Tao residents of Orchid Island who have called the island home for many centuries, and without being too grim, touches on the harsh reality of families forced to live apart due to financial constraints. Tsui employed Tao actors for an intimate look into the lives of the residents of Orchid Island. Both their music and language play a strong role in this film that is cinematic and deeply poetic.
May 30 at Lincoln Square
June 6 at AMC Pacific Place
June 8 at AMC Pacific Place
Tiffany can be reached at email@example.com.