Echo in the Valley

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Date Time Venue
12/10 (Fri) 7:30 pm Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Space Museum
20/10 (Sat) 7:30 pm Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Space Museum*

*Q&A session with director

Ke Wan-ching
Taiwan / 2016 / 41 min
In Mandarin, Bunun, Pinayuanan and Rukai dialect with Chi & Eng Sub

In the late 1960s, Taiwan's aborigines flocked to the national forest land for a living. Working in the forest lands for long periods of time, the aborigines composed "forest songs" to give solace for their tired bodies and lost souls.

Director's Profile
Ke Wan-ching is an assistant professor at Fu-Jen Catholic University. Her films include The Land to Live, The Lost Youth: Women and Industrial Work in Taiwan and Nostalgia: Looking at the Migrant Aboriginal Workers. Echo in the Valley was selected by Kaohsiung Film Festival 2016 and Taiwan International Labor Film Festival 2017.

Background Information

In Taiwan, “National Forest Compartment” generally refers to forested land administered by the government. When organising activities and managing production in such areas, “forest compartment” is often used as the measurement unit to streamline statistical data collection and resource management. Taiwanese natives have been working in mountainous regions within forest compartments since Japanese colonial times. After the National Government of the Republic of China relocated to Taiwan the Forestry Bureau was established and began recruiting natives for various types of forestry work including logging, hole planting, afforestation and the occasional collection of wild ai-yu from trees for extraction and processing.

The National Government soon began developing the mountainous regions as part of its modernisation strategy, forcing natives to relocate to flat land where they live in modern dwellings. In order to make a living, however, they have continued to work in forest compartments in stretches of one to two months at a time, sometimes for the entire rain season. The workers engage in drab, labourious work during the day, and only in the evening can they relax and unwind through drinks and songs. Their songs, inspired by their exhaustion with the tough work and longing for home, have since become a part of their tradition.

Through the years these “forest songs” facilitate musical exchange between different tribes and embody the unique culture among native forestry workers. Lyrics in native dialects, Japanese, Mandarin and Taiwanese are accompanied by traditional ancient ballads and even contemporary pop music and together they capture the world views and philosophies of the native peoples. They even inspired popular Mandarin pop songs such as A Matter of Chance, The Setting Sun Sees Me Home and Little Secret.


Screenings at the Hong Kong Space Museum will be available at URBTIX from 7 September.
Ticket Price: $70 / $50*
*Full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minder and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients

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