“This is Chen Wei-ting. He’s Taiwanese.

This is Cai Boyi. She’s Chinese.

I’m Fu Yue. I’m Taiwanese. I think I take part in the social movements by making documentaries and trying to make changes. I regard Wei-ting and Boyi as my comrades.”

This is the beginning of the trailer and it captures everything. With the bloom of Taiwan’s democracy, civil movements are becoming more and more common. Our Youth in Taiwan captures the experiences of two student activists, Chen Wei-ting and Cai Boyi.

This documentary won Best Documentary at the 2018 Golden Horse Award, but it also launched itself into the newsfeed. In her acceptance speech, director Fu-Yue took to the microphone and exclaimed, “I really hope that, one day, our country can be treated as a truly independent entity. This is my greatest wish as a Taiwanese person.” This award was attending by the movie industry of Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. The reaction from the Chinese actors, actresses and directors were apparent as Chinese actress and jury Chair Gong Li refused to take the stage with Ang-Lee to present the best feature film.

Read more: Variety – Golden Horse Awards Ceremony Sparks Political Firestorm in China and Taiwan

While this film is marketed with Taiwan’s iconic Sunflower Movement as it’s centerpiece, it is a story about these two people and their growth through Taiwan’s civil movements.

Chen Wei-ting

Chen Wei-ting rose to stardom with the Sunflower Movement. While Lin Fei-fan was head of the students, Wei-ting was second in command. Fei-fan was always calm collected and spoke in a professor-like demeanor, but Wei-ting would spark the crowd up with his passionate rhetoric.

Wei-ting is seen to be the coordinator of many student movements. It seems to him, it didn’t matter if there were 10 supporters or 100 supporters, he is always there. He brings sarcasm and humor to serious demonstrations, but is also emotional when attacked.

He starts off the film as being a boy who likes to envoke a response from people. Upon visiting China, he purposefully picked out shirts that mentions the Tiananmen Massacre and Taiwan’s own 228 massacre and would purposely shout words of provokation. We follow him through several student protest until we enter the Legislative Yuan with him. This was his turning point. He was suddenly tasked with leading a movement that had hundreds on the inside and thousands on the outside. The pressure gets to him as he starts to understand the responsibility of managing and making hard decisions.

The film does not stay too long on the Sunflower Movement, but marks it as a turning point for him. After the Sunflower Movement, Wei-ting enters the election to be a legislator. However, he is muddled by his past of sexual harrassment. Multiple incidents are brought up from the past, forcing him to withdraw his campaign.

At the end of it, Wei-ting seems like a whole different person. He was ready to give up. At one point he talks to the camera and exclaims, “Taiwan is on you now.” When asked who he was speaking to, he said, “the audience.”

Cai Boyi

“If you really want to see the democracy in Taiwan,

you should go to the streets.”

Cai Boyi

An unlikely person to be in Taiwan’s local student protests, Cai Boyi is a Chinese exchange student. She was among the first batch of students to come from China to study in Taiwan.

The film follows Boyi as she navigates the Taiwanese student movement circle with her unique identity. There were laughs being passed around as she struggled to speak Taiwanese. However, it all changed when the Sunflower Movement happened.

With the Sunflower Movement being a student movement that went against China and its far-reaching influence to Taiwan, there was an increase in hateful rhetoric towards Chinese people. Being a supporter of Taiwan, but a Chinese nationalist, Boyi starts to feel the pain of being hated. This feeling further manifests itself after the movement as she runs for her university’s student council president.

The school had added a column to mark nationality in order to bring Boyi’s Chinese heritage to the forefront. For those that didn’t know Boyi’s background in the student movements had a visceral reaction of Chinese influence creeping onto school campuses.

Throughout the film, there Boyi is constantly pushing back against her parents as they wish for her to not get involved in political issues. At the end of the film, her fire to fight the power and spread the word seems to only be flickering.

Fu-Yue

“In this film, the main message I hope to convey is: when you project your own expectation and dreams onto someone else, and disregard this person’s own thoughts, ideals, and complexity, and use them just as a projection. You are harming them.”

-Fu Yue BBC News 中文

To say there are only two characters in this film would be a lie. Fu-Yue, though not much footage is shot of her, is the third character. Narrating the story, she takes us on this journey of her own self growth.

Probably the most heartfelt scene is the last few moments in the movie. She screens the documentary for the Wei-ting and Boyi and open up a dialogue with them. The comments from Wei-ting and Boyi were so direct that it seemed almost hurtful, but the comments were heartfelt. The comments were not just from them to the director, but a word to the audience of not projecting your own hopes and dreams onto others and to make something of themselves to move the needle.

Read more:

Review: Our Youth in Taiwan by New Bloom Magazine