TaiwanFest offers a short (and melodramatic) history of film

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      The organizers of TaiwanFest aren't about to let anyone forget about the country's impressive big screen history, treating Vancouverites to four free screenings under the banner of Cinematic Taiwan.

      Riffing on the new wave that directly preceded it, Yee Chih-yen's Blue Gate Crossing (2002) is a critically acclaimed, queer-themed drama about the emergent sexuality of young Kerou (Lun-Mei Guey), screening Saturday (September 3) at the Orpheum Annex.

      Speaking of 'emergent', screening later the same day at Granville 700, Hou Hsiao-hsien's Cheerful Wind is a very early (1981) curio from the master filmmaker that shows an early playfulness with form, even for a love-happy potboiler.

      It'll be interesting to see how the festival chooses to screen Blue Moon, also at the Annex on Sunday (September 4). This 1996 production from director Ko I-Chen is more of a strange loop or a game of four dimensional chess than a film; its tale of two men and woman wishing upon a blue moon for a "second chance" is structured so that viewers can watch its five reels in any order.

      Finally, we get a taste of the massively popular melodramas that crowded Taiwanese theatres in the '70s with director Lee (The Oyster Girl) Hsing's 1973 blockbuster The Young Ones, in which the iconic Chen Chen has to grapple with forbidden love, puppies, and a killer heart defect. Bring your hankies to the Annex on Sunday (September 4).

      TaiwanFest from Saturday (September 3) to Monday (September 5) on Granville Street and at various other venues downtown. For the full schedule, visit the TaiwanFest website.