Imagine There’s No China: Wei Te-Sheng’s Japan Trilogy

Date and Time: 16:00-17:00 on Thursday 11 August, 2022

Venue: Porthania PIII, University of Helsinki (Address is Yliopistonkatu 3)

Starting with his mega-hit Cape No.7 in 2007, director Wei Te-Sheng has launched a one-man revival of Taiwanese popular cinema. It was followed by Seediq Bale and Kano, which he produced but did not direct. All three films are set in or fascinated by the Japanese colonial era (1895-1945). In Taiwan, it used to be common to say that older people who had nostalgic memories of the half-century of Japanese colonisation (1895-1945) had a “Japan complex.” This talk considers how the Japanese colonial period has appeared in Taiwanese cinema, up to and including Wei’s films. Why does Taiwan cinema have such an enduring Japan complex, especially now that very few people can actually remember that era? I argue that the key to understanding this phenomenon is actually Taiwan’s relationship to China.

About the speaker

Chris Berry is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. In the 1980s, he worked for China Film Import and Export Corporation in Beijing, and his academic research is grounded in work on Sinitic-language cinemas and other Sinitic-language screen-based media, as well as work from neighbouring countries. In 2017, together with colleagues, he launched the “Taiwan’s Lost Commercial Cinema: Recovered and Restored” project about Taiwanese-language cinema, and in 2020 co-edited a special issue of Journal of Chinese Cinemas on the topic, vol.14, no.2.

Chris Berry’s lecture, moderated by Julie Yu-Wen Chen. Photographer: Ying-Ju Lin