(52 minutes, 16mm, color, sound, Mandarin/Minnan Taiwanese/English, 2005)
Available versions: 1) 52-minute with English dub-over, 2) 52-minute with English subtitles, 3) 48-minute with English and Chinese subtitles (Taiwan broadcast version)
Co-producer/Director/Writer/Camera/Editor: Anita Wen-Shin Chang
Additional Cinematography: Gibbs Chapman
Original Music: Huang Wan-Ting & Huang Yi-Jin
Executive Producer: Sylvia H. Feng
A co-production with Taiwan Public Television Service
Amidst the political upheavals of a nation and the world, the filmmaker navigates cultural, geographical and linguistic distances in search of wisdom and hope from her 100 year-old Taiwanese activist grandmother (Ama).
The film explores the discovery of my grandmother’s political sensibility just prior to her entering a full-care facility through the intimate details remembered by those closely associated with her, her award-winning autobiographical essay which was published in 1994 by the Taipei Women’s Rights Organization, and my own memories. As the film progresses, we hear history being told from various perspectives. Eventually, twists and turns develop along the way - the expectation that the camera is a reliable witness, or that the translation is accurate, the many facts that Ama left out of her biography, or that the biography was even written by Ama.
62 Years and 6,500 Miles Between reworks the documentary form with its own set of expectations, while investigating historical, social and political phenomena via the personal. This film specifically examines how a postcolonial people negotiate the memory and translation essential to the reconstruction and ultimately reclamation of a personal and national history. Translation and memory are the means by which we construct the past, yet both of these are delicate. For example, while emphasizing testimonials in light of an official history, I use images of contemporary Taiwan, instead of archival footage — reflecting how a postcolonial people can sometimes only reimagine their past. Finally, in the telling of this history perhaps the film will spark dialogue about the nonfiction canon that is deeply driven by our desire to represent history - revisted or as a moment in time; a memory - however vivid or fleeting; and truth - whether perceived or felt.
Asking her grandmother what advice she has for young people, filmmaker Anita Chang receives a simple reply: “Politics!” Despite a third stroke and a century of struggle, “Democratic Grandma” remains true to the ideals that earned her acclaim and a memorable nickname in Taiwan. However, she also knows that progress exacts a price - a realization rendered vividly and with poignant candor in Chang’s portrait of her headstrong amah. Tracing the parallel threads of her female relatives’ stories, Chang (SHE WANTS TO TALK TO YOU, SFIAAFF ‘02) uncovers revelations of political persecution while focusing on the struggle to maintain - and sometimes resist - the bonds of filial traditions. A mesmerizing and provocative meditation on history-making and the post-colonial condition, this dynamic documentary intimately depicts what it means to be a part of a family, a nation, and a world in constant upheaval. - 2005 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
If Chang’s grandmother opposed authoritarianism in politics, Chang counters the easy clichés of traditional documentary film-making in order to provide her viewers with a genuinely collaborative sense of spectatorship. Her viewers take a journey into the past with her, and follow the bloody and treacherous history of Taiwanese modernization. Chang does not offer us easy resolutions of the contradictions of her pro-democracy grandmother: instead, she is thrillingly honest about both her subject and her process. Her film is beautiful and compelling and captures brilliantly the tumultuous changes seen by Taiwanese culture and politics in the past half century. This film is critical viewing for students of contemporary Chinese and Taiwanese history, students of documentary and experimental documentary as well as feminist filmmaking. - Catherine Liu, Professor of Visual Studies, University of California at Irvine
62 Years and 6500 Miles Between is actually a road movie where time expands and fades and during changes and scrapes along the road, those roles women consider themselves to be playing are recognized and acted out realistically. In the director’s narration of the film, the “I”, hopes that the shift from conscious watching to spontaneously feeling reveals contents of movement, i.e. movements of bodies, thoughts, time and concepts. – Women Make Waves Film Festival, Taiwan
I am intrigued with the whole problem of connotation and how film can – or cannot – deal with what’s happening, what’s not there. This is one of the things I find so interesting about 62 Years and 6500 Miles Between. - Judith MacDougall, Ethnographic Filmmaker & Visiting Fellow, Australian National University
Taiwan Int’l Ethnographic Film Festival/Tour (Opening showcase), Hsin-Chu Image-Visual Museum, Kaoshiong Movie Library, Taichung National Nature of Science Museum, Taidung University, DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, Film Arts Festival of Independent Cinema, Women Make Waves Festival/Tour, San Francisco Int’l Asian American Film Festival, Roxbury Film Festival, New York Int’l Asian American Film Festival/Tour, Los Angeles Asian American Film Festival, Tainan University of Arts, Women of Color Film Festival, University of Santa Cruz, Pan Asian Film Festival, University of Chicago, Chicago Asian American Showcase, National Taiwan Public TV Broadcast
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