Running Time: 56 mins / Production Year: 2000~2002 / Broadcast: PTS Taiwan, May 2002
In this documentary, director Tang records his own son’s birth and growing up, his father’s recovering from a stroke and a nostalgic trip home to China. (In the 1940′s his father evacuated with the Nationalist troops to Taiwan after it lost the Mainland to the Communist in the war. It wasn’t until 1980′s were people allowed to go home to visit in Mainland China). From his search for the earliest memory of life, with a close observation and sensitivity, he exams the parallels of the different lives of a different time.
In his previous work, “HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN”, director Tang ends it with the ultrasound image of his unborn child, representing the beginning of a new life. With this work, “HOW HIGH IS THE MOUNTAIN”, it is rather a beginning of a series of questions about life and a continuation of examination of his own life and the longing of a perfect world.
Executive Producers: SYLVIA FENG, TSAI FANG-JU
Producer: YEH JUFENG
Director: TANG SHIANG-CHU
Cinematographers: TSAI CHENG-HUI, KWAN PUNG-LEUNG
Sound: TANG SHIANG-CHU, TU DUU-CHIH
Editor: CHEN PO-WEN
Music: CHEN CHIEN-NIEN (aka PUR-DUR)
It was a rare afternoon with the weather warm and sunny. I took a stroll with my father and my son to a neighboring school playground. There was no wind. Tiny droplets of sweat appeared from the tip of my nose to the back of my neck. Father was having a hard time keeping up with my son. With his face redden from running, my son quietly retreated to a shady area by the trees and was waving us over. He stood in the shade uncommonly still.
The branches on the statuesque old oak tree slowly began to sway. The sound of the leaves and branches rubbing against each other amplified. My son, with his eyes narrowed to a slit, a wholehearted smile blossomed on his face. He let out a giggle. His fine hair danced in the wind. He reached out his two arms and tried to capture that joyous moment. Beautiful moments come and go with the unpredictable wind; with time, walls thickened and grow around innocent minds. Fortunately, I know of a medium that can keep time at a standstill. It allows me to hold on to those triumphant moments.
Not too long ago, my previous work, “HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN”, was invited to a multiple screening event. At a screening for the press there were two people in the audience, counting myself. I haven’t seen it in over a year. I turned off my mobile phone. In the pitch darkness of the projection room, once again, my soul and my work communicated intimately with each other. Luckily it was dark. For on many occasions, I had to fight back tears. What was recorded two short years ago seems has happened a world away: Mamnno’s shy smile, the relentless wave at the beach of the Orchid Island, and the longing for the perfect world, etc. It was very fortunate for me to be able to record those moments.
Those moments are so often overlooked from our busy lives. “HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN” is about the unbearable lightness. “HOW HIGH IS THE MOUNTAIN” is about the unbearable heaviness. Because of its weight, it is much personal and close to home. It may appear at times that this film is more descriptive on the details and tends to be a bit tedious. My dear friends, our drying hearts need the occasional nurturing. Even if it makes connection with only one soul, the existence of “HOW HIGH IS THE MOUNTAIN” would be worthwhile. With the wind, time flies pass us. At least let us feel its breeze as we bravely take our steps forward toward the future.
Tang Shiang-chu 9 / 11 / 2001
*Distinguished Documentary Film at the Golden Harvest Awards, 2002.
*Special Mention in Competition at the Taiwan Int’l Documentary Festival, 2002.
*Best Documentary Film at the Golden Horse Awards, 2002.
*Selected for Hong Kong Int’l Film Festival, 2003.
*Selected for Hot Docs Canadian Int’l Documentary Festival, 2003.
*Best TV Documentary Film at the National Association of the Broadcasters Peabody Award, 2003.