Thanks to the generosity of contributors to the MAKING HISTORY crowdfunding campaign I was able to make a trip to Taiwan early last year, to continue research and to work on my project to document the life of Su Beng. And even more incredibly, while I was there, I witnessed and experienced the historic Sunflower Movement and occupation of the Legislative Yuan.
I was also extremely fortunate to be with Su Beng the first time he entered the chambers of occupied Legislative Yuan, and of course I was ready and armed with my video camera in hand.
But how did some of my footage end up in the documentary film, "Su Beng, the Revolutionist?"
Before my crowdfunding campaign even got fully funded, my friend Chia-Chun had introduced me to Lihkuei Chen, who I knew as the director of the film Dear Taiwan (好國好民). At the time Lihkuei was working on a documentary film about Su Beng. Lihkuei is of course the director of "Su Beng, the Revolutionist."
Lihkuei and I met several times when I was in Taiwan last year. We chatted and compared notes on the shared subject matter of our work- Su Beng. And when I learned that Lihkuei had gone to Tokyo to interview the love of Su Beng's life, a Japanese woman who he has referred to as "Hiraga," I asked her about it. Lihkuei kindly told me about the interview and her personal impressions about Hiraga. I had wanted to meet Hiraga years ago, but there were a number of obstacles since she primarily speaks Japanese and resides in Tokyo. I knew that although Su Beng and Hiraga separated in the late 1960s, they have remained in touch. Until recently, Su Beng would travel to Tokyo annually to look in on his Tokyo noodle shop, which he has kept running since it opened in the mid-1950s.
I asked Lihkuei if she would share the interview with Hiraga with me, and she agreed. In fact, Lihkuei told me that probably only a very small portion of the interview with Hiraga would make it into the film. While my project certainly has a video documentary portion, it has always primarily been about the biography of Su Beng. Film and the written word are two very different mediums, which on the surface may require similar research. But in many ways, a written work can provide a greater depth of detail than film. This was a really exciting development for me- to be able to get Hiraga's perspective on Su Beng and the experiences that they've shared together. I'm certain that it will add another dimension to the telling of Su Beng's life story.
Initially, when I started this project to document the life of Su Beng, I set out simply to audio and video record my interviews with Su Beng, but then that extended to recording moments of Su Beng's everyday life. Now, whenever I'm with Su Beng, I usually have my video camera on hand.
Which brings us back to March 27, 2014, the day I found myself in the chambers of occupied Legislative Yuan with Su Beng and a video camera capturing it all. What a monumental moment it was, and when Lihkuei asked if she could use the footage that I had shot, I was more than happy to oblige and to be able to contribute something to her film. Now some of that footage can be seen in the trailer for "Su Beng, the Revolutionist" that was released on YouTube today.
My footage appears at the 2:16-2:50 mark of the trailer. You'll see scenes of Su Beng inside of the occupied Legislative Yuan, speaking to Sunflower Movement student leader Lin Fei-Fan and then addressing all of the activists camped in the Legislative Yuan chambers. The footage looks a lot better than I remember! It's amazing what some great video editing can produce. I can't wait to see the entire film.