“We should do more cinematic documentaries“
Industry Report: Documentary
Yin-yu Huang • Producer, Moolin Production
Interview with Yin-yu Huang, producer for Taiwanese company Moolin Production and selected for the 2020 Emerging Producers programme
Interview with Yin-yu Huang, producer for Taiwanese company Moolin Production and selected for the 2020 Emerging Producers programme.
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Yin-yu Huang: I started documentary filmmaking when I was still a college student. One of the courses back then was on visual anthropology, which became a foundation of my works. My pure interest in human beings, in people that I know nothing about, led me to observing others. Though I found that documentaries have the strength to change the world, they primarily help me to examine myself. Ten years passed, I’m still in this field as a director, a producer, a distributor, as well as a curator. I believe that documentary films can move forward and change the world little by little, and our responsibility is to bring these films to a proper platform so that more and more people can access them.
What qualities should a documentary producer have these days?
Clear thinking and a long-term strategy for fighting the way to the end a long production journey. There will be many unforeseen turns, for example, a delay in schedule, protagonist’s situation changes, and many others, and thus the ability to adapt to the situation and improvise when finding a solution is important. For international co-productions, a sense of the geography of international/domestic markets is also important. Overall, having the characteristics for cultivating a long-term project and the attitude for patiently resolving obstacles are good qualities of a documentary producer.
What do you think is the future of distribution of documentary films?
I think we should put more effort into discovering documentary films, those with strong cinematic visuals that are capable of competing with fiction films. I believe when we present more of these films with a high cinematic value, our markets will embrace documentaries a lot more. I also see it as an important task to cultivate the taste for artistic documentary films and market them to art-house moviegoers. Currently, I am distributing artistic and cinematic foreign documentaries in Japan because I want to experiment and challenge the acceptance of this film genre on the domestic market in order to expand the possibilities of our line of work.
What projects do you have under way (including in the area of fiction film and other projects)?
Currently, I am working on three documentary projects, one fiction film project, one VR project, and I am also a production coordinator of one large-scale fiction film project..
One of the three works-in-progress is called Green Jail, a film that I directed and produced. It’s about the final years of an old woman of Taiwanese descent, who’s the last survivor working in a notorious coalmine located on an island of Okinawa before World War II. It will be released at the end of this year. The second documentary project is also connected to World War II, and is made by an Okinawan director, Katsuya Okuma. The film, The Bone Collector, unearths lost memories from the war. It’s a journey of the director who goes into endless search of the bones of his grandmother’s sister, someone he had never met, together with a man who digs up bones of the unknown who were buried in the caves during the Okinawa Battle -- the only land battle in Japan that involved civilians.
The third project, A World Imagined, also inspired by memories, is a journey from Buenos Aires to Taipei; a group of Taiwanese immigrants who moved to Argentina in 1970s is coming back to Taiwan due to the situation after 50 years living abroad. Did they ever really leave?
As I’m curious about the VR/XR immersive media, I’m also developing a VR project called, Visa-Exempt Entry. It has been selected for the “Short Form Station” at Berlinale Talents this year. It’s a short VR film that confronts peculiar objects: illegal immigrants, “ghost ships,” dead pigs, etc. floating to the seashore from intetnational waters. This VR short takes place in three seaside villages in East Asia.
Besides film projects, I’m also the director of programming at Cinema at Sea - Ishigaki Island International Film Festival. The very first edition of the festival will be held this November on Ishigaki Island of Okinawa, Japan.
Emerging Producers is a promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.
Deadline for applications to the Emerging Producers 2021 edition is 15 March, 2020.
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