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Along the Path

Birth, aging, illness, and death are major challenges faced in life, especially when we are not prepared. During our pain and sorrow as we see others go through these experiences, or we do so ourselves, we must still face reality, as we continuously yearn for and remember those loved ones who have already gone. FAMILY, Hard Good Life 2, and Trekking in Wind and Rain are three moving films that deal with life and death, the most basic issues we face.


Trekking in Wind

It was 2005, the year of Chicken according to the Chinese calendar. A new life was born in a Naxi village named Dandu. Meanwhile, another life went to the end. Is it just the natural rhythm to see one life ends and another comes into being? Or is there some sort of destined connection between these two souls in the…


Hard Good Life

This film is a visual journal on fear and courage, loss and gain, and illness and healing in life. It is also a conversation between daughter and father, as well as a reflective monologue on the memory of hope and sorrow. After her father got cancer, the director learned to use the camera to record her father’s struggle. They went…


Father and Mother I Love You

The story of FAMILY occurred on the night of January 13, 2006, when John visited his grandfather during a weekend holiday. The next morning, he was found dead. His family decided to put their sorrow aside and donated John’s organs and body. This film redefines the value and meaning of life by focusing on mutual ennoblement and empowerment. Sorrow is…

An Imperfect Life

There are nine films in this section that explore the body, our senses, and the soul through different physical and mental conditions, portraying how misfortune and unfavorable living conditions affect people’s lives. The following nine stimulating films are featured in this section: Seeing Freezing Life—The Most Intimate Computer Family, Leprous Life, Transparent Time, Lady Camellia, Bilal, The Long Walk, Today the Hawk Takes One Chick, Voices from El Sayed, and People Say I’m Crazy.


People Say I’m Crazy

Welcome to my mind. My name is John Cadigan, and I’m an artist with schizophrenia. “People Say I’m Crazy” is my documentary about the world inside my head. It’s a chaotic world filled with paranoia, creativity, fear and desire. A world in which I’m struggling every day, trying to know what is real and what is not


Voices from EL Sayed

In the picturesque Israeli Negev desert lays the Bedouin village of El-Sayed. It has the largest percentage of deaf people in the world. In El-Sayed deafness is not a handicap. Through the generations a unique sign language has evolved making it the most popular language in this rare society that accepts deafness as natural as life itself. The villages tranquility…


Today The Hawk Takes One Chick

Amidst the highest prevalence of HIV in the world and the lowest life expectancy, three grandmothers in Swaziland, a small, landlocked country in southern Africa between South Africa and Mozambique, cope in this critical moment in time. For these grandmothers, there is no choice but to raise their grandchildren and maintain basic needs. As more and more insight into the…


The Long Walk

Ken Ward was the first Native Canadian to go public with his HIV diagnosis. Seven years later he has developed AIDS and remains a passionate advocate for HIV prevention and treatment. Ward works primarily with First Nations populations, where the epidemic is often compounded by isolation and poverty. He also takes his message into prisons where the infection rate among…



The story begins inside an 8X10 feet partitioned room in central Kolkata. Almost nothing is visible inside. In fact, Bilal’s parents are blind. Bilal is just three years old and he has an infant brother. Both of them can see. Bilal is totally aware of the physical disabilities of his parents even he is at such an early age. He…

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Lady Camellia

In Sorok-do where traveled by chance, we encountered an old woman, Lee Hang Sim, 78-years old, who was dragged into Sorok-do at the age of 4 by her parents because of Hanses’s disease. Pregnant after emancipation, she hid her pregnancy for 10 months for she was forbidden to give a birth. She couldn’t even scream in travail until cock crow…


Leprous Life

Leprous Life records the life stories of leprous patients at Lo-sheng Hospital in Hsin-chuang, Taiwan. The shooting took eight years. Many patients came to Lo-Sheng when they were children, and they have been convicted of life imprisonment by the society. They left home and were jailed in Lo-Sheng for almost fifty years. When the Taipei Metro Rapid Transit Company started…


Seeing Freezing Life- The Most Intimate Computer Family

For the ALS patients, the internet is the best tool to extend their mind and body. Right now, Hsieh Shih-yu lives at the Motor Neuron Disease Center. Although he cannot move and speak, Hsieh Shih-yu can communicate with his son who studies in the United States via e-mail and webcam. Mr. and Mrs. Hsieh have created an incredibly well-communicated and…

2009 Directors in Focus

Directors in Focus

Directors in Focus introduces two films by the highly regarded team of American ethnographic filmmakers Timothy and Patsy Asch and anthropologist Linda Conner. The two classics, A Balinese Trance Séance and Releasing the Spirits: A Village Cremation in Bali, are part of the filmmakers’ series on the beliefs and rituals of Bali.

TIEFF 2009’s Directors in Focus section also introduces Bilin Yabu, a member of Taiwan’s Atayal Tribe, and his two films that delve into Atayal culture and aboriginal identity, power, and conflict: The Stories of Rainbow and Through Thousands Years. These two films were produced 10 years apart. From them, we can examine how the director pierces the surface, digging deep into the varied intertwining relationships between cultural exchange, communication, and conflict the Atayal people face.


Releasing the Spirits: A Village Cremation in Bali

Cremation rites are the most elaborate rites of passage performed by Balinese householders. Poor families may wait years before accumulating enough resources to cremate their dead, who are buried in the meantime. This film is about a group of villagers in Central Bali who cooperated to carry out a group cremation. It had been 15 years since they last held…


A Balinese Trance Seance

Bringing rice, flowers, and woven coconut leaves as offerings, clients visit Jero in her household shrine to figure out the cause of their son’s death. Jero ,the witch lights an incense brazier, sprinkles holy water, and recites mantras as preliminaries to trance. Several ancestors and the young son speak through her voice, revealing the exact reason of his premature death…


Through Thousands Years

A team of film workers of Han descent went to Cinsbu and Smangus—two Atayal villages located in the deep mountains of the Hsinchu County—to shoot a film about the migration history of the Atayal people. This film brought conflicts to the tribe, including distrust of Atayal villagers against the Han outsiders and quarrels within the tribe. An aboriginal director recorded…


The Stories of Rainbow

In the Atayal legend, the soul of a deceased person will arrive at the Atayal heaven via the rainbow after they die. And the face tattoo is the only way that they can rely on to get to the rainbow. This film is a documentary about the viewpoints of the elders who have tattooed their faces. It portrays how the…

Local Viewpoints

Rowing the Cinat; Men’s Ocean, Women’s Calla Lily Field; Desert Brides; In My Father’s Country; and Menstruation have been placed in the Local Viewpoints category. These five films use different topics as jumping off points, but have a common purpose of getting closer to the viewpoints, thoughts, and concerns of the people involved. By getting so close to their subjects, we are privy to the interactions between the group and the outside world, and between members of different classes and genders within the group. From this perspective, we can get a unique viewpoint on how people in each culture themselves view the issues.



Chhaupadi sheds are common in mid- and far-western villages in Nepal. During their menstruation periods, women stay in these sheds which are unhygienic and unsafe, putting them at risk to their health and lives. People believe that women are impure during chhau and will make everything they touch impure. The film is the story of the women who have suffered…


In My Father’s Country

In a remote part of Australia a small homeland community is fighting for its life. The community Elders can see their culture decline and decay as their young keep moving to nearby mining towns for better life. They worry that their ancestral lands ,culture and their people may become weak and lost under the impact of the globalization in 21st…


Desert Brides

Miriam El Kwader, a Bedouin wedding photographer and mother of seven, lives in an unknown and neglected Negev village. Through her camera lens, she reveals the most distressing issue polygamy in Bedouin’s marriage system . This is the story of three, relatively educated and independent women, trying to survive, each in their own way in their world – a life…


Men’s Ocean, Women’s Calla Lily Field

In my father’s memory, our family had the experience of building a 10- person boat 30 years ago. Father is now the only elder in the family fishing team. Thus, in order to leave the family fishing team a memory of boat building, Father decided to make a new boat after discussing with other members. This film records the stories…


Kawut Na Cinat’Kelang

This film documents the boat-building and rowing process from Tao Island to Taiwan, sponsored by the “2007 Dream Project: Rowing 2007 Ocean Etude.” It shows the essence of Tao oceanic culture. The director worked with his good Tao friend, Shyaman Vengaayen, as the curators of an exhibition project about the traditional Tao boat-building culture at the National Museum of Natural…

Rhapsody in Real Life

Sing It!, The Captive, and Patrasche, a Dog of Flanders, Made in Japan show us the many intricacies of life. The joys and sorrows we experience crystallize into the power to ignite a multitude of wonders and expand our horizons.


Patrasche, A Dog of Flanders, Made in Japan

Today this book, A Dog of Flanders is taught in Japanese high schools, it is a classic in the UK and the States and has inspired numerous films and TV series in Japan and the States. The most important of them being the Japanese animated series of 1975 that counted 52 episodes and influenced the Japanese culture intensely. Many of…


The Captive

In Taiwan, when talking about “old soldiers”, most people consider them as members of the Kuomintang (KMT), the political party that followed Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan. In October 1949 after the KMT had lost the entire mainland, the Communist army invaded Kinmen Island. After three days of intense fighting, the Communists were defeated at Gu-ning-tou on the northwestern coast of…


Sing It!

This film documents the inspiring and spirited journey of a group of aboriginal kids who found their confidence through singing. Bukut is the principal of a primary school located in Tong-Pu, an aboriginal village in central Taiwan. With a background in sports curriculum, Bukut is the least likely candidate for directing a choir, but that is just what Bukut did:…

Roots and Routes

Small Steps on a Long Road, The Sixth Resettlement, The Lost Buddha, Suddenly Sami, In Search of the Hamat’sa: A Tale of Headhunting and Jerusalem(s)portray stories common to almost every society: Those separated from their culture search endlessly and walk down innumerable roads before they can once again return home, literally or figuratively. Only after such a journey, can their origins begin to become clearer.


In Search of the Hamat’sa: A Tale of Headhunting

The Hamat’sa (or “Cannibal Dance”) is the most important-and highly representable ceremony of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) people of British Columbia. This film traces the history of anthropological depictions of the dance.Moreover it tries to discuss about the cultural role this dance serve. Another focus in this film is the filmaker’s fieldwork experince. It works on th ethics of the relationships…



In Jerusalem, three religions meet. They harmoniously coexist. While the guides lead us through the streets of Jerusalem, we can see people from different backgrounds and culture live in the same neighbourhood. The guides are the meessagers of time. They deliver the message that only time can solve all the disputes and trouble.

The guides even tell us three stories,…


Suddenly Sami

Suddenly Sami is a personal film about identity. During the director’s childhood and youth in Oslo her mother never told her about her indigenous Sami background in the Arctic area of Norway. Why didn’t she? And how can the director suddenly become Sami in the middle of life? And does she really want to?


The Lost Buddha

The film director lived in the mountain village of Fotuoyan for more than a year to record the living condition, traditional customs, religious beliefs, as well as the impact of Socialist rural development of the peasants on the Loess Plateau in Northern Shaanxi. The film narrative develops in accordance with the four divinations: summer, autumn, population, and national affairs. The…


The Sixth Resettlement

For thousands of years, the Kucong tribe have lived in the primary rainforests of the Ailao Mountain and led primitive hunter-gatherer lifestyles. However, things changed in 1949 with the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China. A series of programmes were initiated to get the Kucong tribe to leave the forests and mountains, however, such initiatives did not go down…


Small Steps on a Long Road

Ye Cai was born in 1946. When still quite young, he signed with Eastman Kodak Company as a professional photographer. For seven years, Ye traveled around the world to capture the beauty of all cultures. However, when he saw that people in Europe were very conscious of their own cultures and histories, he gave up on this prestigious job and…

Shaman Healing

This section includes Between, Fate of the Lhapa, Living with the Invisibles, and The SHADOW, four films bursting with vibrant culture that explore how the shamans from different cultures shuttle between the realms of good and evil to prevent disasters and remove adversity. These films are rare treats that should not be missed.


The Shadow

Even at night time, the Wana shamans from the Sulawesi see the “shadow” in each of us. For them, this “shadow” , which the sun defines on the ground during the day is a spiritually constitutive part of ourselves. It’s by observing the overall aspect of this “shadow” that the Wana shamans diagnose the sickness that is striking. The traditional…


Living with the Invisibles

When they emigrated to Europe in the 60’s and 70’s, Moroccans brought with them their culture and their “diseases”,they believed, caused by the spirit of their ansestors. In Europe, most North African families will include someone who is undergoing this kind of disorder. The disease may manifest differently on each person-(asthma,paralysis,epilepsy…etc).If the disease is left untreated, it might result in…


Fate of the Lhapa

Fate of the Lhapa is a feature-length documentary about the last three Tibetan shamans (lhapas) living in a Tibetan refugee camp in Nepal. These shamans are really concerned about their endangered traditions.They fear there might be no descendants to carry on their healing practices and traditional treatments.The lhapas requested their stories to be filmed. They wish to keep a historical…



In-hi, a 28 year-old woman experienced paralysis in her upper body for no reason. Moreover accidents happened to her family incessantly. She regarded this as some kind of curse and visited Hae-kyung, the female shaman. In-hi found out that she is destined to be a shaman and fell into dilemma. Korean Shamans are the intermediaries between the living world and…