2023 KFF sets new box office record as 30,000 film buffs gather in Kaohsiung
The 2023 Kaohsiung Film Festival (KFF) drew to a spectacular close on the evening of October 22nd. This year’s total box office exceeded TWD 3 million, including yet another TWD 1 million+ from XR Dreamland, both setting new festival records. The 2023 KFF screened 207 feature and short films across 197 sessions, 64 of which were sold out, attracting over 20,000 viewers. XR Dreamland screened 30 XR works across 3,663 sessions; 60% of the program was sold out, and the 7,000 participants set a new KFF record.
This year’s festival brought together more than 200 Taiwanese and 88 foreign film professionals. In particular, over 50 creative teams from the global XR industry gathered at KFF for XR Dreamland, participating in over 112 festival activities. Attendees included film ambassador TSENG Ching-hua, KFF judges CHENG Wen-tang, Singing CHEN, Ivy YIN and Estela VALDIVIESO CHEN, Golden Horse Award-winning actors GWEI Lun-mei, Ethan JUAN and WANG Yu-xuan, Taipei Film Award-winning actor LI Yi-jie, Golden Bell Award-winning actors FU Meng-po, Kaiser CHUANG and WU Jian-he, as well as “triple Gold” (Golden Horse, Golden Melody, Golden Bell) winner CHEN Ming-chang, plus LEE Lee-zen, Ivy SHAO, JC LIN, Patrick SHIH, WANG Yu-ping, Edison SONG, HSIA Teng-hung, and CHU Meng-hsuan.
International guests included Short Film Competition judges Basil KHALIL and Nik Amir MUSTAPHA, XR Competition judge Amy SEIDENWURM, and Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival curator Jay KIM; renowned Japanese directors UCHIDA Eiji and TAKAHASHI Banmei; WADA Natto, wife of the late MORITA Yoshimitsu, this year’s “Tribute to the Master”; Japanese filmmaker, writer and actor KUDO Kankuro and Japanese star FUKUCHI Yusuke; and the South Korean stars of The Eighth Sense, LIM Ji-sub and OH Jun-taek, and The Dream Songs producer AN Bo-young and lead actress PARK Hye-soo. This year’s KFF also invited the crew members of several outstanding Southeast Asian works, including Will VU, producer of the Vietnamese film Sister Sister 2; Wanweaw HONGVIVATANA and Weawwan HONGVIVATANA, the twin sisters who directed the Thai film You & Me & Me, along with the film’s star, Thitiya JIRAPORNSILP; and Nik Amir MUSTAPHA, director of the Malaysian film Imaginur, all of whom traveled to Kaohsiung to greet audiences.
The world premiere of the opening film, The Bridge Curse: Ritual, was sold out within seconds. Director Lester SHIH and producer HAO Po-hsiang, along with cast members JC LIN, WANG Yu-xuan, HU Shih-an, Boris WANG, CHAN Tzu-hsuan, and Linus WANG, all appeared after the screening, earning a rousing ovation from film fans. The closing film, The Young Hoodlum, was attended by director YU Jhi-han and the award-winning cast including WU Chien-ho, Joseph HUANG, Peter CHUNG, PAN Chin-yu, and Sharon HUANG.
The annual theme of this year’s KFF is “Aestheticism”. The main visual design was created by graphic designer Godkidlla (LIAO Chun-yu), a Golden Bell Award winner for Best Album Design who has designed album covers for superstars such as Jolin TSAI. Following an 11-year hiatus, Godkidlla returned to collaborate with KFF, designing a romantic and surrealistic “dizzying” atmosphere through emotional gazes and physical connections in a vibrant and distorted dreamscape. The selected films of this section included the Taiwanese film The Time of Huanan, an exploration of youthful love, family bonds and time-travel; the 4K restored version of the aestheticism classic Death in Venice; and the film version of the popular South Korean BL drama The Eighth Sense, all of which achieved packed screenings.
This year was KFF’s 13th International Short Film Competition, which attracted 2,260 outstanding short film submissions from 91 countries around the world and ultimately selected 43 international shorts and 16 XR works. With more than 30 foreign and 100 Taiwanese filmmakers in participation, it is Taiwan’s largest international short film competition and only international XR competition event. The biggest prize of each of the three sections, the Golden Fireball Award, went to 48 Hours (International), A Night with Moosina (Taiwan), and Jailbirds (XR).
This was the sixth consecutive year of XR Dreamland, the largest XR industry event in Asia. This year, XR Dreamland invited six Taiwanese and 22 international XR filmmakers and industry representatives, and also presented 16 original Taiwanese XR projects, providing a glimpse into global XR trends and the potential of Taiwanese projects. Iconic Australian musician William BARTON, who co-directed Square Circles, Karen PALMER, who made the SXSW Best in XR Experience winner Consensus Gentium, and Adriaan LOKMAN, director of the Venice Immersive Grand Prize winner Flow, all came to Kaohsiung to share their industry stories and creative journeys. Visual poet CHOU Tung-yen’s annual work, Free UR Head, attracted over a hundred people every session, breaking the record for the highest number of participants in a virtual reality experience. In total, over a thousand people participated in 14 outdoor sessions.
The Kaohsiung Focus segment “Kaohsiung Shorts” continues to produce quality works showcasing the diverse perspectives of filmmakers. This year, the selected shorts included Unofficial History of Time, starring HAN Ning and student actors LI Chih-i and WANG Chieh from Kaohsiung Girls’ Senior High School; The Same, in which CHENG Yu-chieh portrays an absent fishing boat captain father; Hit by Goodbye, featuring Lawrence KO and eight-year-old actress HSIEH Yi-lo as father and daughter; The Dream Will Carry Us, starring TAI Ya-chih, who was nominated for Best Newcomer in a Television Series at the Golden Bell Awards; Little Deaths, with child star TSAI An-yen and LAI Yu-fei; Longest Night, starring CHANG Feng-hao and LEE Ling-wei; Three Hours in the Life of a Woman, in which YE Ting-qi and WANG Yun-chih depict a teacher-student relationship; and J is for Just an afternoon thunderstorm, featuring OUYANG Lun, WANG Ko-yuan, and Neili.
After working on the “Quarantini” and “Corpse, Dick, and Test Kit” short film collections together, Taiwan Public Television Service and KFF have once again teamed up this year to present “The Post-90s Generation”, themed around the challenges facing those born after 1990. The films included Right Jabs, a collaboration between Golden Bell Award-winning screenwriter WU Zi-en, and new-generation actors Stone YANG and HUANG Wei; Take Me to the River, written and directed by emerging filmmaker Shao LIN and starring Golden Horse Award-winning actress Winnie CHANG, newcomer PU He-fei, Taipei Film Award-winning actor KAO Ying-hsuan, and child star Daniel CHEN; and Hear Her with Your Eyes by TING Chi-wen, who participated in last year’s Kaohsiung Shorts film There's No Sex, Only Fans, which went on to be nominated for Best Short Film at the Taipei Film Awards. TING’s new short stars Golden Horse Award-winning actress DING Ning, new-generation actresses Anicca Panna and TUNG Wei-ling, and LEE Hsiang, who was nominated for Best New Talent at this year’s Taipei Film Awards.
Kids Fantasy, the signature children’s section specifically designed for children of preschool and elementary school age, showcases a selection of top-notch animated films from international film festivals. This year’s Children’s Jury selected a total of 11 children’s short films from nine countries to create Taiwan’s largest annual family film event that screened a total of 40 children’s shorts. The interactive children’s theater, which has become a KFF children’s brand event, provided five film-inspired activities such as an outdoor mini-sports carnival and fun handicraft. The sold-out activities provided sensory development experiences full of creativity and imagination, allowing children to see the world in a new light.
The 2023 Kaohsiung Film Festival, in collaboration with the Taiwan Technology X Culture Expo, achieved record-breaking results in terms of box office revenue as well as audience attendance, event, participation, and filmmaker involvement. Riding this future wave of technology and culture, the festival will continue to tell stories through film. For more information, please visit KFF’s official website (www.kff.tw), Instagram, and Facebook.