Tuesday, December 27, 2011


In 2011, Urban Nomad gave two jury prizes and an audience choice award in its annual competition for short Taiwanese films. The awards were decided by an independent jury and an audience vote, as follows:

Simon Whitfield, film composer (UK)
Nie Yong-zhen (聶永真), film critic (Taiwan)
Roan Ching-yue (阮慶岳), author (Taiwan)*

Film: The Duck of Nature/The Duck of God (short)
Prize: $25,000
Film Details: James T. Hong and Chen Yin-ju/ 2011/ US/Holland/Taiwan/ 4min
Juror's Statement: On first viewing, Duck of God might appear to be nothing more than a left-field rendering of the soundbite highlights of 17th century philosopher, Spinoza. But the piece is also loaded with metaphor relevant to our modern world - ask 100 people to explain the meaning of Duck of God and you will probably get 120 answers. Maybe it's a beautifully shot and humorously presented peek into the difficulties of being a wooden duck in an organic world. A duck with a message to share, but no audience willing to hear it. Or maybe it's a comment on The Age Of Me, where our Web 2.0, our Facebooks and our MeTubes have replaced Spinoza's God - before food, we used to offer Thanks - but now, we take an iPhoto of the food and Blogpost it on our virtual altars. Or maybe it's an allegory on the themes of alienation; loneliness; and a yearning for connection and community in a world that seemingly offers all of this, and instantly. And yet, we are alone.

Or maybe it's none of those things.......

And it's all presented beautifully, with a Hollywood ending and a germ-idea for The Sequel.

 - Simon Whitfield

Film: Once Upon a Time in Kinmen 巨獸
Prize: $7,500
Film Details: Shin Chun-Han 施君涵/ 2010/ Taiwan/ 28min/ Ch/En
Juror's Statement: In everyone’s hearts there lurk monsters which are hard to push out into the open. But for those who harbor them, these represent weighty memories, identities and ideologies. This work uses a mature cinematic language to show us the existence of these suppressed entities and the different ways they are expressed.

 - Nie Yong-zhen

Film: The Alien 泰國鱧
Prize: $7500 

Film Details: 鮑孟德/ 2010/ Taiwan/ 25min/ Ch/En
Juror's Statement: Bao Meng-de’s film received the highest number of audience votes by a large margin, so there’s no question the 2011 Urban Nomad Audience Choice Award belongs to him. His film shows us two new “alien” arrivals that have come to Taiwan from Thailand. One is a fish, an invasive species of Thai carp that is killing off local fish stock and can’t be served in restaurants for its foul taste. The other alien is a Thai bride, a lonely migrant who married a Taiwanese restaurant owner for economic reasons. In the very limited setting of a countryside restaurant, this short film shows us the problems associated with regional migrations and global change, but even better, it also proposes that we may find solutions where we least expect them.

 - Urban Nomad Programmers

 *note: Roan Ching-yueh was unable to take part in the final judges' meeting.