The Center for Chinese Studies (CCS) of the NCL in cooperation with SOAS, University of London, organized the “Taiwan Lectures on Chinese Studies” on July 6 and 8 respectively. Prof. Christopher Lupke from the Washington State University was invited to speak on “Decoding Cui Suxin’s Gongliao, How Are You?: Post-verité Documentary and Environmental Activism.” NCL’s Deputy Director-General delivered a remark on the lecture.
Prof. Lupke looked at a documentary presentation of the resistance to Taiwan’s highly controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, built in the northern fishing village of Gongliao. He pointed out that filmmaker Cui Suxin uses a “second-person” voiceover to narrate her work, addressing a “you” whose identity is only ascertained midway through the film. Prof. Christopher Lupke examined this unusual form of narrative structure and speculates on the dramatic effect it has for the viewers. The film, produced in the mid-2000s, can now be viewed with the mediating event of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster in mind, thus raising the stakes for this risky form of energy production.
The second lecture delivered by Prof. Lupke was “The Illusion of Teleology in the Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien : Culture, Style, Voice, and Motion”. Prof. Lupke discussed a range of Hou’s films from throughout his career, suggesting that despite a wide variety of subject matter, settings, and themes, one constant in his film is the illusion of teleology. He addressed much is made of Hou’s static camera in his early films and the slow pan of his later cinematographic style. Prof. Lupke continued “Despite, that what one finds pervading his films is an inability to achieve one’s goals, an inability to get where one wishes to go, or an inability of the movement through space to effect the ends that one had intended”.