THE LOST SEA
Directed by Hung Chun-Hsiu
Outstanding Artistic Contribution (Editing), 2014 Taipei Film Festival
Official Selection, 2013 International Environmental Film Festival
Late one night, documentarian Hung Chun-hsiu received a frantic phone call from a man on the island of Kinmen. He asked Hung to bring his camera to Kinmen before it would be too late. What Hung filmed over the next ten years is a fateful intersection of thousands of years of life, hundreds of years of cultural history, and a decade when everything changed.
Though governed by Taiwan, Kinmen sits less than two miles from China, making it one of the most contested territories in a half-century of struggle. It also makes Kinmen and its inhabitants – both man and animal – vulnerable to the diplomatic whims of both nations. Among those inhabitants are the horseshoe crab, a trilobite-like marine creature dating back millennia, and two men surnamed Hong who have economic and cultural interest in the survival of the animals.
When we’re first introduced to them, the Hongs can still appreciate a certain style of life, from their days as farmers, fishermen, and self-taught marine biologists, to their nights as beer drinkers, cooks, and karaoke aficionados. That was back in 2001. With every return to the island, director Hung captures men frustrated by the environmental changes brought upon by broken promises: an increasingly barren land and an increasingly industrialized coastline, all of which Hung’s camera records with composed indignation. Politicians make appearances and inconsistent statements, developers make off with centuries of tradition. And yet the Hongs remain, feet in the sand, shaken but unmoved. –Brian Hu