Seediq Bale sets a first with local premiere on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Building
The premiere of the epic Seediq Bale was held in unprecedented fashion on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Building on the evening of September 4. Twelve years in the making, with over 14,000 shots, 15,000 roles, 720,000 feet of film, and costing NT$700 million, the public debut of the film here was attended by producer John Woo and his wife, Huang Zhi-ming, Central Motion Picture Chairman Kuo Tai-chiang, director Wei Deh-sheng, and actors Hsu Ruo-hsuan, Ma Chih-xiang, Wen Feng, Lo Mei-ling, Zheng Zhih-wei, and Chie Tanaka. President Ma Ying-jeou, Taipei City Mayor Hao Lung-bin, Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, Government Information Office Minister Philip Yang, renowned artist Hsiao Yeh, directors Hou Hsiao-hsien and Wang Tong, directors who provided assistance over the course of the film Cheng Fen-fen, Lee Yun-chan, and Huang Li-hsing were among those invited to the opening. Also attending were Make Up director Lien Yi-qi, actors Hsieh Hsin-ying and Wu Chung-tien, producer Lee Lie of Jump Ashin, director Lin Yu-hsian, actors Peng Yu-yan, Ke Yu-lun, and Lin Chen-hsi, director Tom Shu Yu Lin of the soon-to-be-released Starry Starry Night, and director Tsai Yue-hsun of Black and White and his wife. To be sure, it was an evening full of stars! Organizers specially invited several dozen indigenous tribespeople to stage a dance at the premiere to celebrate the movie's premiere and recreate one of the most dazzling scenes in the film. Director Wei Deh-sheng, who hurried back to Taiwan from the Venice International Film Festival for the opening, said that he was quite nervous about screening his film in front of everyone here for the first time. He said his only hope is that Taiwan audiences accept and enjoy the movie, and understand the story told in the film. Wei also repeatedly thanked everyone who provided assistance in the making of the film. Central Motion Picture Chairman Kuo Tai-chiang said that it is quite a feat for Wei to finally see his vision realized after 12 years of work. Kuo also joked that many people several years back feared they would get calls from Wei asking for money. However, the success of Wei's previous film Cape No. 7 has brought opportunities for Taiwan cinema, he said, adding that he has now become Wei's largest investor. Kuo said he hopes everyone will support film, helping to create new paths to exhibit Taiwan's artistic and cultural heritage and put Taiwan's soft power on display throughout the world. Producer John Woo said he felt honored to be a part of Seediq Bale. He expressed his deep admiration for Wei, describing the director as full of determination and humanitarian spirit. Addressing the impact on the film of being shown at the Venice International Film Festival, Woo commented that the Western press, critics, and audiences warmly received Seediq Bale and were deeply moved by the story of the indigenous tribespeople. Woo added that rights to the film have been sold in many countries, and bidding wars were even seen in a few places, to which the crowd responded with a round of applause. Master of ceremonies Mickey Huang announced that the public bought over 140,000 tickets of the film even before it opened here, generating a pre-opening box office of NT$42 million. The film will open in theatres on September 9, with 356 copies of the film to be shown in 67 first-run theatres, which will constitute the biggest opening ever for a film here. At the premiere, the film's continuity girl and script clerk took to the stage and read from the notes they made during the film, with the remarks touching many in the crowd. Seediq Bale is the tale of the Wushe Incident, involving the Seediq tribe in its longstanding battle against rule by the Japanese. Tribal chief Mona Rudao, the protagonist, witnessed how the tribe was forced to lose its homeland and hunting culture under Japanese rule, and became determined to battle the Japanese in order to keep the traditions of the tribe alive. Across the Rainbow Bridge is the home of their ancestor's spirits and a wonderful hunting range. The Japanese were shocked by the sudden attack by the tribe and thousands of Japanese soldiers were called in to put down the uprising, which was ultimately designated as the Wushe Incident. Mona Rudao’s foe Temu Walis also became involved in the battle, with the three sides fighting each other amid the blossoming cherry trees. Part 1 of Seediq Bale-- The Flag of Sun-- will hit local cinemas starting September 9, while the second part of the film-- The Bridge of Rainbow-- will be screened starting September 30. Strong public interest is expected in this epic film detailing an important episode in Taiwan's history.