Taiwan's "Seediq Bale" gets nod for 68th Venice International Film Festival

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Sunday July 31, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

A Taiwanese film, "Seediq Bale" has been selected to show at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. This film directed by Wei Te-sheng will aid in bringing the true history, plight and identity of Taiwan into the public's eye and indirectly put to the lie the claim that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the mythic Chinese motherland.

The film relates primarily to the Wushe Incident in Taiwan's history, an uprising by one of the indigenous tribes of Taiwan against Japanese colonial rule.

Thematically the film will serve many purposes as it also points out major elements of Taiwan history. First, the Seediq tribe or people lived primarily in eastern Taiwan, an area that had never been under the control of any of Taiwan's past colonial powers whether it be the Dutch, the Spanish, the on-the-run Ming loyalists, or the Manchu Qing. The Japanese were the first nation to subdue and rule the whole island of Taiwan.

The Seediq revolt was essentially a revolt against an oppressive regime (here the Japanese)and it would not be the last revolt against oppression by Taiwanese. A later oppressive regime would be the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) setting up its one party state ruled by martial law and oppressing the rights of Taiwanese worse than the Japanese. Taiwanese finally overcame that KMT repression and forced them to give in to and recognize a multi-party state and democracy. Now of course a third oppressive regime (the People's Republic of China--PRC) threatens again to take away Taiwanese freedom, using fallacious claims like the above mentioned that Taiwan has always been a part of the mythical Chinese motherland and trying to force a "one China" label on Taiwan.

A third and certainly not the last point brought out by the film is that it will give greater dignity to the indigenous people who have long been made second class citizens by the numerous past rulers of Taiwan. What Taiwanese who identify themselves with China should note is that by frequent intermarriage they share much of the same heritage of the various indigenous people of Taiwan even though they also are guilty of oppressing their culture.