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'Mother' to Taiwan cinema focuses on new talent

By Xu Wenwen   (Shanghai Daily)

08:49, January 14, 2013

(File Photo/ The Beijing News)

Many fans of Taiwan cinema can reel off the works of leading directors such as Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Edward Yang. But mention the name of Peggy Chiao - also known as Hsiung-Ping Chiao - and often you will be met by blank expressions.

Yet film critic, filmmaker and film academic Chiao, who was born in 1953 in Taipei, played a leading role in shaping Taiwan new cinema in the 1980s and 1990s. Her work as mentor to directors such as Hou and Yang earned her the title "Mother of Taiwan new cinema."

And since the 1980s she has also championed cinema from China's mainland, most recently supporting young mainland directors, organizing film festivals and publishing books.

"My parents were from China's mainland, and to me it's natural to come back," Chiao told Shanghai Daily at the Campus Film Festival at Nanchang University, in central China's Jiangxi Province, last month.

Chiao's father came from Shanxi Province and her mother was a Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region native. The couple moved to Taiwan in 1949.

Now Chiao is art director of the Campus Film Festival and Honorary Dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television at Nanchang University.

But these are just two of many hats this polymath of cinema wears.

Having studied journalism in National Chengchi University in Taiwan, she went to the United States to study for a master's degree in radio, television and film from the University of Texas, Austin, and a PhD in film from University of California, Los Angeles.

Chiao started her film career as a 25-year-old film critic writing columns for newspapers. Later she became a filmmaker, producing award-winning films such as "Beijing Bicycle," "The Hole," "Blue Gate Crossing," "Betel Nut Beauty," "The Drummer," and "Portrait of Hou Hsiao Hsien."

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