Taiwan puppetry, cinema, and democracy will be explored at UBC Museum of Anthropology

In the modern era, the island nation of Taiwan (Republic of China) has distinguished itself as a cultural capital of East Asia.

It's not just the brilliant filmmaking of Ang Lee. 

Since emerging from martial law in the early 1980s, the country has also become a hotbed of pop performances and indie music, as well as more highbrow art, perhaps best exemplified by the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.

The Made in Taiwan show earlier this year at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC offered a glimpse into the country's visual arts.

For those interested in learning more about how Taiwan's arts scene has evolved, there's a forum on Friday (May 9) from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

The museum's director, Anthony Shelton, will offer introductory remarks, focusing on the historical relationships and contemporary issues that have given rise to this cultural expression.

He'll be followed by UBC Asian studies professor Chris Rea, who will discuss important landmarks in Taiwanese cinema.

Robin Ruizendaal, who has a PhD in Chinese studies and who's director of the Lin Liu-hsin Puppet Theatre Museum, is the next speaker. Based in Taipei, he'll chronicle the development of puppet theatre in Taiwan on stage and on television.

The fourth speaker, Charlie Wu, is a well-known Vancouver cultural impresario whose company, the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association, puts on the Telus TaiwanFest and CIBC LunarFest celebrations. He'll talk about how the rise of Taiwan's democracy—following Japanese occupation and more than three decades of martial law—has helped nourish its cultural industries.

The following morning on Saturday (May 10) at 11 a.m., there's a screening of Hsiao Hsien's 1993 film The Puppetmaster.

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