Maker of Argentine film on Taiwanese immigrants plans sequel

01/31/2020 07:53 PM
Marcos Rodríguez
Marcos Rodríguez

Buenos Aires, Jan. 29 (CNA) Argentine filmmaker Marcos Rodríguez, whose 2016 documentary "Arribeños" explored the lives of Taiwanese immigrants in Buenos Aires, is planning a sequel to the film to be shot in Taiwan.

The new project, which will focus on immigrants to Argentina who later returned to Taiwan, is currently being reviewed by the Ministry of Culture to see if it qualifies for an international co-production grant.

In a recent interview with CNA, Rodríguez explained how his interest in Taiwanese culture and inspiration for making "Arribeños" grew out of his admiration for Taiwanese directors Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢) and Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮).

According to Rodríguez, "Arribeños" took its name from the main street running through Buenos Aires' "Barrio Chino," or Chinatown, which flourished as a center of Taiwanese culture following a surge in immigration during the 1980s.

Perhaps because of the timing of that immigration wave, the "Barrio Chino" has a nostalgic, stuck-in-time quality, which brings to mind the atmosphere of some of Hou's classic films, he said.

In order to make "Arribeños," Rodríguez studied Taiwanese culture for a year and then spent another year filming in Barrio Chino, capturing holiday gatherings, religious ceremonies, karaoke parties and classes at local Chinese-language schools.

For the interview portions of the documentary, the filmmaker said he wanted viewers to overcome their preconceived notions about Asian immigrants, and therefore decided to present the speakers' voices without video images of their interviews.

In these sections, Rodríguez said, the immigrants' stories -- their reasons for coming to Argentina, their struggles with the Spanish language and experiences in the workplace, and their efforts to pass their culture and traditions on to their children -- spoke for themselves.

While making the film, Rodríguez learned that a considerable number of Argentina's Taiwanese immigrants left the country during its 2001 financial crisis.

Since then, Rodríguez said he has become increasingly curious about what became of those people after returning to Taiwan and what memories they had of their time in Argentina.

By coming to Taiwan to make a sequel, Rodríguez said he hoped to complete the story told by his 2016 film and give a fuller picture of the rich and varied experiences of Taiwanese immigrants.

(By Wang Bi-chih and Matthew Mazzetta)

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