In the 1990s, the Taiwanese government launched an initiative called the Community Development Project, which encouraged people to record local oral histories, landscapes, environmental issues, and so on, using the then-innovative technology of household digital video cameras. The results of these efforts were collectively referred to as ‘Community Documentary’. Through encouragement from the public and private sector, Community Documentary workshops provided the basis for a burgeoning collective movement. Since the 1990s, this accumulation of community-based videos has provided an alternative way to document environmental change, especially in non-urban areas. However, most of these community documentaries have been overlooked by mainstream media in Taiwan. As a result, this particular subgenre of non-feature film production has not been collected by official archives; instead, they remain the possession of the individuals who create them, or the organisations that hosted the workshops.

This presentation aims to introduce the concept of Community Documentary in Taiwan, and argues for the importance of collecting these somewhat inaccessible and disparate images, so they can be transformed into a publically-accessible database. These community-based documentaries form an invaluable resource with which to recreate images of an environment that is fast disappearing.

Pin-Chuan Chen

Cultural Division at the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, Taiwan

Former Director of the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (TFAI, formerly known as the Taiwan Film Institute; TFI) and academic scholar specialising in Taiwanese documentary and archival film. Pin-Chuan received his PhD in Film Studies from King’s College London in 2014. He is Assistant Professor at Chaoyang University of Technology (Taichung, Taiwan) where he teaches film- and documentary-making, as well as film theory. One of his research interests is focusing on the use of film / documentary-making as a method of social engagement.

In addition to fifteen years’ experience in tertiary education, Pin-Chuan was appointed Director of the TFI between 2016 and 2019, where he dedicated his time to film preservation and restoration. Currently, he is the Director of the Cultural Division at the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, where he is responsible for organising cultural exchanges and promoting Taiwan’s film heritage to a global audience.