Voices of Youth. Focus on Richard Chen

Richard Chen (°1938) was born in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, a province in South-western China. In 1945 his family moved to Taiwan. In 1959 he entered Chengkung University as an architecture major, but a year later he moved with his parents to the US. Upon graduation from Chicago Art Institute in 1961, he went to UCLA’s graduate school as film major. He completed his studies in 1967 with Liu Pi-chia.

This program revolves around The Mountain (1966), in which Chen follows three college students in Taiwan, talking about their aspirations as upcoming artists. One of those friends is Mou Tun-fei, from whom we spotlighted two early works during last April’s online event ‘Voices of Youth. Unseen Taiwanese films of the 1960s’. In her online talk, film historian Wafa Ghermani mentioned her surprise when encountering The Mountain only recently, in its restored version: “When I first saw that short documentary, I was astonished, because it was the very first time I saw young Taiwanese people of the sixties speak freely.”

The Mountain, Richard Chen (Taiwan, 1966, 19′)
After completing his film studies at UCLA in the US, Richard Chen returned to Taiwan. In the mountains of Hsinchu, he filmed the short documentary The Mountain to the tune of the melancholic counterculture hit ‘California Dreamin’. In it, Chen allows three students, including up-and-coming filmmaker Mou Tun-fei, to talk freely about their artistic ideals, the Vietnam War and their place in a changing Taiwan.

Through the Years, Richard Chen (Taiwan, 1964, 11′)
Every mile of train track built during the territorial expansion into the American West would have cost the life of a Chinese migrant worker. Combining fiction and documentary, Through the Years shows trains rattling past rickety fortresses and arid deserts. As a waltz plays, the desolate landscape contrasts with the smiling faces of tourists.

The Archer, Richard Chen (Taiwan, 1963, 5′)
The Archer is a student film that Richard Chen made during his education at UCLA. All aspects, including story, script and character design, were conceived independently. It features classic oriental imagery and a western child recounting the Chinese legend Houyi Shoots Down the Suns in English.

Liu Pi-Chia, Richard Chen (Taiwan, 1967, 30′)
Liu Pi-Chia paints a realistic and powerful picture of the simple everyday life of a middle-aged veteran living in Hualien County. It is a film about ordinary people at an unusual historical moment. The film lets them be who they are and shifts the task of interpretation to the viewers.

This program was made possible with the additional support of