Winner of the Grand Prize at the Taipei Film Awards, Heather Tsui’s charming debut film mixes music and drama to tell the uplifting tale of an Indigenous children’s troupe training for a national dance competition.
Based on the director Heather Tsui’s real-life experiences, this wonderful, family-friendly musical drama centres on Manawei (Chung Chia-chun, who won the prestigious Golden Horse Award for Best New Performer), a young boy from the Tao tribe on Taiwan’s outlying Lanyu, or Orchid Island. Yearning to reunite with his father in Kaohsiung city, Manawei joins his elementary school’s dance troupe, led by a thirtysomething teacher Zhong-Xun Yu (Shang-Ho Huang), as the students prepare for their journey to the National Indigenous Dance Competition.
With its use of traditional Tao songs and a cast of almost all non-professional actors from the local Yami people, Tsui’s winning debut foregrounds themes of cultural identity, family responsibility and the need to preserve Indigenous experience, while being funny, sweet and incredibly entertaining.
“Tsui’s impressive feature is deftly structured to inform audiences outside Taiwan about the challenges facing an Indigenous people while also spinning a thoroughly entertaining and accessible ‘let’s put on a show’ yarn.” – Variety