Screening of this film is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan) and Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles.
Set amidst the indigenous communities in Taiwan, this heartwarming film revolves around a pair of new shoes, a cross-sea competition, and a tribesman of oceans interweaving the story of a child’s emotional courage in pursuit of dreams.
Raised solely by his grandmother, Ma Na Wei has lived a frugal and needy life since childhood. With his shabby and broken shoes, he draws a picture of his own feet and sends it to his father, who works overseas, in the hope that he’ll bring him back a new pair of shoes one day. Yu Zhongxun, a newly certified teacher who is to begin working on Lanyu, arrives at the tribal community’s elementary school. Leaving behind his colorful metropolitan life and separated from his friends, Yu sees this tiny island as just another country backwater, but sucks it up as stepping stone for him to return to the big city by earning a good performance evaluation during his, hopefully, short tenure.
Then comes the annual Aboriginal Dance Competition, and event that he is charged to recruit a troupe to compete in. Upon discovering Ma Na Wei’s talent in dancing, Yu decides to write a musical script based on Ma’s story. Leading the team in choreography rehearsals, Yu believes the dance competition is an opportunity for the kids to explore their potential, and reclaim their lost pride and courage. Surprisingly, Ma Na Wei’s father comes home, but what he brings back to his son is not what he expected.
The film was 6 years in the making for Tsui, who turns in an impressive feature directorial debut that is part love letter to the Yami people and a coming-of-age story with universal appeal. The dance troupe, in real life, has won national awards and has been invited to perform both nationally and internationally. LONG TIME NO SEA was recently nominated for Best Screenplay in the upcoming Asia Pacific Screen Awards last winter. —Anderson Le
Director, Writer: Heather Tsui
Producer: Heather Tsui, Gene Yao, Gwo-Shing Su, Pao-Ying Chen
Cast: Jia-Jun Zhong, Shang-He Huang, Feng-Ying Li
Director of Photography: Jing-Yao Liao
Production Company: Richland Production
World Sales, Distribution: Swallow Wings Films