The inaugural Taiwan Film Festival in Sydney was held 27-29 July 2018. This year's program focussed on showing the diverse cultures of Taiwan, including the international premiere of The Story of the Stone directed by Starr Wu on 28 July at 7.00pm. The Story of the Stone won the Excellent Screenplay Award at the Golden Harvest Award 2014 in Taipei and is a contemporary adaptation of the classic novel by the same name.
It took more than twelve months in post-production, edited by the director Starr Wu. “It took a little longer than expected because I kept re-cutting the film until it felt right". The film displays an honest and natural depiction of gay life in Taipei, as well as exploring the issues of despair and hope.
Festival Director Benson Wu sat with Starr Wu one-on-one to uncover the meaning behind the film.
"I wanted to make this film in order to show the reality of gay life in Taiwan. The film might seem simply as a sexed-up version of mainstream gay films, but actually it is not" said Director Wu.
In the gay community, there are many sub-groups based on how you look and who you are attracted to. Indeed, there is an invisible wall for certain people to fit into other sub-groups because of the way they look or their body type; that just might be the feeling you share when you watch The Story of the Stone.
Masculinity being the beauty for men, in fact, could be about gay men's ideologies or fantasies. For Director Wu, the film itself tells the honest truth of the fantasy of masculinity that exists in certain gay communities in Taiwan. "I don't want to judge because I believe it's everyone own right to decide who they want to like and how they want their body to look."
Indeed, the film takes a look at life, hope and despair. "Perhaps, it is too fast for a country to pass same-sex marriage when there may be a lack of understanding about the LGBTIQ community and the post-AIDS epidemic world," said Festival Director Benson Wu. This is what the film points out in the complexity of the various layers of the story and the outstanding cinematography.
"It might seem like people are raising their voice for something they learned about in mainstream media, television and conceivably through pop-culture" said Festival Director Benson Wu. With the lifestyle of nightclubbing, drugs, and seduction, the film presents a real nightlife perspective of life in Taipei, but at the same time, questions what lies behind this and why people are living like that.
Without making any direct judgement, the film shows how two characters in the same situation make completely different life choices, to live or die. Indeed, that is what Director Wu wanted to bring out through discussion when making this film. Asking questions, such as "why do people make different life choices?", "how, in this post-AIDS epidemic world, do people choose to live their lives living as HIV positive?", and topics like whether certain drugs should be legalized or not.
The film might seem dark and to some may be seen to demonize the gay community, but at the same time, there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel. "Sometimes it might seem like we are all living in the same world with other people, but in fact, there are actually multiple worlds existing together in the same place. I'm observing and documenting this 'other' world that is often not seen by the people" said Director Wu.
Which one is the better world, which lifestyle is better? This is up to you to decide based on how you define what the value of life means to you. "Sometimes there is no right or wrong answer, as long as your decision doesn't affect or damage other people," said Director Wu.
On 28 July 2018, The Story of the Stone was presented by Taiwan Film Festival in Sydney and co-presented by ACON Asian Gay Men Project and Queer Screen- Mardi Gras Film Festival.
The Encore screening of The Story of the Stone will take place on the 16 September at Event Cinemas George St in Sydney. Find out more at https://www.taiwanfilmfestival.org.au/encore-screening
The Story of the Store
- Closing Night Film for Taiwan International Queer Film Festival
- Selected for Houston International LGBTQ Film Festival
- Selected for Washington D.C. Chinese Film Festival
- Selected for InPanda International Film Festival in Hong Kong
Written by Benson Wu, Edited by Peter.