Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Burma benefit

Hats off to those involved in a benefit concert in Taipei at the weekend, organised to raise awareness of the victims of the cyclone in Burma - or Myanmar, as its military rulers prefer to call it.

Events there - resulting in at least 78,000 deaths - have been overshadowed by news coverage of China's devastating earthquake in Sichuan province, especially in Taiwan, where the tv networks, so normally locally-obsessed, have put it at the top of their headlines.

While the Chinese authorities were quick to begin rescue and relief work, the story was different in Burma, which is run by a military junta and, until last weekend - and under much international coverage - agreed to allow in outside help and aid.

In Taiwan, the government has pledged million of dollars in aid for China; and thousands of individuals have also donated money. That compares to the pledges of several thousand dollars in aid for Burma, which is just as needy.

A concert at the weekend hoped to raise more awareness about the situation in Burma, and also some money for the victims.

Many bands performing had Burmese connections. The lead singer of Underflow, a Hsinchu based band, is from Shan State in Burma. Eric Tuan has lived and studied in Taiwan for the past ten years.

He says many Taiwanese have been moved to help China’s earthquake victims because of the widespread media coverage; and that has overshadowed attention about Burma.

"After the tv, all watch the news and know about Sichuan…the media is the main key give the people think some places are very important. That’s why we are here today. We want let more local people to know situation back in Burma is very serious; they need help..more than 1m have no place to stay.if they donate and help, it will help them.”

Besides live music, and a chance to snack on locally made Burmese food, compilations of international television news coverage of the cyclone damage and its aftermath were screening to help give those attending a wider picture of the extent of the disaster. Event co-organizer, Celia Yang is from Burma herself, but has lived in Taiwan for the past 16 years.

"Burma is kind of closed and not so much information,. I don’t want people to forget there are people who are there, hungry and need our help. So this event is to catch attention, awareness, to see that there are still people in Burma, victims, who need our help."

While organisers got busy contacting many of the local Burmese community asking them to help with the event – Celia got an unexpected phone call from Hong Kong based pop-rock singers, Soler, asking if they could take part. The twin brothers Julio and Dino Acconci, were born in Macau, sons of an Italian father and Burmese mother. They’re now making a big name for themselves in Asia – and have just been nominated for a Golden Melody award this year. But Dino explained why they were so keen to play for free at the event.

"Its just help…Any way we can… we are talking about a meaningful event.. Anything you can do to help save human lives or encouraging other to help another to help any human being is very worthwhile.

"I do know there are some organisations that haven’t forgotten Burma. What I’d like I’d like to see others not just help their own blood, their own race. I was born in macau..that connects me to china; but my mother is Karen, and that connects me to burma. And my father is Italian. And so I could never choose. I consider myself a human being of the human race; so lets help each other, not just those of a certain race.

The participation of the twins might have helped gain wider media attention of the event. And that was one of the main aims of the day of music: to make sure the victims of the cyclone in Burma should not be forgotten.

In fact, the event raised aised a total of N$117,530 which is going to the Taiwan Red Cross. NT$9,000 of that total was raised in Taichung by the band Public Radio who performed at the Taichung Compass Food Festival.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

designs for the future

The annual Young Designers Exhibition or YODEX – opened at the World Trade Centre Today - showcasing the work of young design students from Taiwan and overseas.

The show gets bigger every year: and this year, an estimated 100,000 visitors are expected to attend; including manufacturers and design houses who are keen to spot the brightest design talent.
The normally sterile exhibition hall has been turned into a bright, colourful playground with different designs and concepts - from the weird and wonderful, the cute and cookie, to some quite high tech and practical ideas.

It's the largest student design exhibition in Asia. showcasing cutting edge designs from 48 universities in Taiwan and design projects from 20 schools internationally from fashions, to interior and multimedia design.

Linber Huang, deputy ceo of the Taiwan Design Centre which organizes this exhibition, says not only is it a good platform for students to get a big audience for their work, its a great way for manufacturers and design houses to get in touch with new talent.

"Innovation comes from the young..and its always fun", he said.

"We've contacted all the manufacturers associations to visit this exhibition..and they can talk with students and help them make their design come true..or if they have good talent, invite them to their company. "

There will be prizes for the top designers. Winnie Cheng's "Take A Seat" suitcase, featuring a padded sofa-style cushion, is aimed at travel weary people who want to have a comfortable rest on their case when there's nowhere else to sit down. Its been selected as one of the best 100 designs.
So has this design..for a baby bath by fellow Huafan University industrial design student, Chen Wei-chuan.
More playful items too..including these sex toy bunnies.
and this hilarious chart... which is part of the same display

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Being a film extra. Things to do before I die....

I was invited to be a film extra the other day...something I have always wanted to of those "things I want to do before i die".
More about that in a moment...

First the film. Its a German-Taiwanese co-production, directed by German feminist film-maker, Monika Treut. Its her third film made in Taiwan - and her first feature.

extras waiting....

In Chinese, the film is called Ai-Mei. The English title hasn't been finalised, but its likely to be something like "In-Between".

I didn't know anything of the story line - nor were we told very much other than its a kind of German-Taiwan love story- when I arrived on set. But after, when I googled the film, I read that it was inspired by Taiwan culture and tradition -especially Ghost Month.

Taiwanese people refer to the seventh lunar month as "Ghost Month" and call the first day of the month "Opening of the Gates of Hades," since it is believed that the gates of Hell are flung open on this day to allow the ghosts and spirits of the nether world into the world of the living for a bacchanal of food and wine.

One part of this ghost mythology especially interested Monika: the female revenge ghost. Women - traditionally oppressed in the Chinese society - are suddenly allowed to move freely in the world and exact retribution.

Ai-Mei tells the suspenseful story of an unusual love affair between two cultures and two cities.

the set - from the street

Anyhow, my role in all of this is very minor. I am a crowd of about 20 extras that night, invited to a photo gallery in Taipei.

Our scenes: entering the gallery, looking at the artwork; chatting about it; and clapping when someone declares the event open. That was about it. the set - gallery scene

It was quite exciting arriving on the set. We had to bring 3 different possible outfits; and then a make up artist got us ready for the set.

We sat downstairs in the gallery (the set was on the ground floor) and waited. Had lots of tea. And waited. I realised (and I guess I already knew this) that film-making itself was not glamorous.

tea..and waiting

Anyhow, it was fun - just the novelty of it all. And I got to meet some interesting people also working as extras.

As I said, being in a film - however limited my role - is something I've always wanted to do. One of those things I wanted to do before I die... Then I was reminded by a friend there is a film called the Bucket List...starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman - about 2 terminally ill men on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they die.

Personally, I dont want to wait until I'm old or terminally ill to do things that I have dreamed of doing.

I had a quick web search..there are all kinds of websites dedicated to "things to do before you die" including this one

I've done a lot of those things..and more.

How about you, my readers in blogsphere. Any unusual things you want to do while you are still young and healthy?

Maybe I will compile a top 10 after I get some replies...