Culture Translation Between “Local” and “International”: The Golden Harvest Award in Taiwan

Ming-yeh T Rawnsley

There were an estimated 170 film festivals worldwide in the 1980s,1 but in 2003, this number rose to 700.2 Some exhibition venues, such as the Riverside Studios in London, disclosed that 60 percent of their screenings in 2011 were part of one festival or another.3 In the twenty-first century, film festivals are playing an increasingly crucial role in our multicultural experiences across the globe. The film festival is often imagined as a window on the world translating “international” cultures into the “national” or “local” cultures, and vice versa. However, we do not yet fully understand film festivals and their contribution to the formation of our worldviews and the cultures that bind or divide us.

This chapter answers two sets of questions from the angle of cultural translation: First, how has film festival culture been translated into Taiwan? More specifically, how did the state adopt and translate the American practices and concept of film awards to suit local needs during the martial law period? Subsequently, how did the policymakers and cultural elites translate and integrate European practices and concept of film festivals

M.-y. T. Rawnsley (*)

School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK © The Author(s) 2017

C. Berry, L. Robinson (eds.), Chinese Film Festivals, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-55016-3_4

into existing Taiwanese film awards during the 1980s and 1990s when Taiwan was democratized? Second, as both the domestic and international cultural landscapes have changed dramatically in the new millennium, how might film festivals function as a cultural broker to enhance the quality of film education and the growth of the local film industry? And how do film festivals help to project Taiwan’s cultural values and soft power abroad? In answering the first questions, my hypothesis is that the film awards have been “festivalized” as part of a process of democratizing a previously closed event while developing democracy and public culture on the island as a whole. For the second questions, I will argue that the role of the film festival as a cultural broker has developed as part of a growing anxiety about influence and visibility since Taiwan was pushed out of the United Nations (UN) in the 1970s. Therefore, this chapter will add a less noticed geographical area of research—Taiwan—to the existing literature on film festivals, while at the same time injecting a new aspect of enquiry on the local and international dynamics of film festivals into the study of Taiwanese cinema.

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