Jeff Orlowski, Director, Chasing Ice
Growing up with a Taiwanese mother, I’ve visited Taiwan many times. I even lived there for about 9 months while in college. But it has been a while since I have been there, and because of Film Forward, this would be the first time I was there with a film.
Our first screening was in Taipei at a newly remodeled venue. It was a beautiful theater, and the Film Forward program was the very first event to screen there. It was so new that on the day before our premiere, our team had to remove their shoes when entering and exiting the venue so as to not track dirt and dust on the brand new red carpets.
After a small reception before the Chasing Ice screening, everyone was let into the theater. It was about 5 minutes before the scheduled screening time and the room was less than half full; I was a little disappointed with the turnout. But then I heard that they hadn’t even opened the doors for the public yet. I walked outside and saw a long line of people waiting for the screening! They started letting everyone in, and ultimately they had to turn away 50 people because they ran out of seats.
The Q&A went on for quite a long time. They’re always a little slower because of the translations, but I tried to use my limited Chinese skills whenever I had a chance and would answer some questions in Chinese if I could. The questions were great. Most questions pertained to what we could do to make a difference with this issue, and how we can solve climate change.
A few days later, after another screening in Taoyuan, we headed down to Hualien on the eastern coast of Taiwan. I had never been there before, and was blown away by their pebble beaches. It was truly a beautiful location, and we kept saying (half serious, half joking) that we should host a Sundance lab in these mountains. It would be a perfect place to retreat to and be able to focus on a project. Who knows, maybe one day that’ll happen!
In Hualien, we screened in a proper movie theater, with beautiful projection and sound. In fact, all of the venues in Taiwan were amazing. At some of the past Film Forward screenings, in rural communities without proper projection capabilities, the team had issues with screening the films. So as a result, Film Forward travels with a “Theater In A Box”—a full kit including a projector, blu-ray player, sound system, and all the necessary cords to connect anything to everything. This 50-pound Pelican case has been traveling around the world, and in Taiwan it was never even opened. The projection quality was really top notch.
The last Chasing Ice Q&A in Hualien was one of the best conversations on the whole trip. The audience was completely engaged, and they really got the significance of climate change. I had been traveling with a lot of Chasing Ice posters and postcards, and after the screening, I spent about 15 or 20 minutes signing posters for everyone. It was such a great audience, I wish they were all like that! I’m sad that my time traveling with Film Forward is over, but that was a perfect screening to end on.