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'Mother' to Taiwan cinema focuses on new talent (3)

By Xu Wenwen   (Shanghai Daily)

08:53, January 14, 2013

In 1981, on returning to Taiwan Chiao organized awards that saw Hou's "The Green, Green Grass of Home" take the top prize.

Later Chiao said Hou was taken aback by the recognition, and that this encouraged him to pursue his own style.

In the years that followed, Chiao was a cheerleader for Hou's work internationally. In 1989, Hou's "A City of Sadness" won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Taiwan cinema found further international success when Edward Yang's 1986 multi-narrative urban thriller "The Terrorizers" (1986) won a Silver Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival.

During this time, Chiao was acting as saleswoman, translator and activist rolled into one, showing up at influential film festivals to promote Taiwan cinema.

Chiao was also the first person of that era to bring movies from China's mainland to Taiwan, following a time when mainland books and films were banned there.

"The first time I saw a movie from China's mainland was in 1981 when I watched 'This Life of Mine' in Hong Kong."

Chiao found Shi Hui's 1950 movie about the life of an old police officer extremely moving, and through her tears vowed to learn more about mainland movies.

She collected video tapes of mainland films in foreign countries, smuggling tape back to Taiwan without any casing or packaging for fear customs would seize them.

At first Chiao organized private film parties in her home to show mainland movies. Then in the late 1980s when restrictions eased, she began writing about mainland movies in her newspaper column.

Chiao has done for mainland directors what she did for Taiwan directors in the past. She has translated, lobbied and promoted. Once for a Hong Kong film festival, Chiao sent jackets to some mainland directors who didn't have suitable attire for the event.

Despite the unstinting help she has offered so many filmmakers, Chiao plays down her role.

"I really don't think I'm a 'mother.' What I actually do is support directors," Chiao insisted.

As to her future plans, Chiao has no doubt where they lie.

"My interests are wide and I do not like to repeat things, so I have many things to do. My ambition is to help improve the Chinese film industry - the more the better."

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