The film records some of the issues that were being faced by the Yami people of Orchid Island in the early nineties: the incursion of Taiwanese tourism, modern medicine, religion and nuclear waste, as well as the effect of these on tribal traditions. This film was interesting in the manner in which the filmmakers questioned their role and motives in making the film. There was an emphasis on the camera's self consciousness, emphasized at times by the sounds of photos being taken or the little boy shouting "stop filming", as well as a series of negative comments about documentaries about the island, the filming of the other cameras crews who were there to provide exotic viewing for Taiwanese viewers, and the filming of all the cameramen present at a staged ritual dance. It is especially clear at the beginning of the film, where the motive of the documentary is laid out clearly by a discussion between the director Hu Taili and other figures who were part of the filmmaking team.
The traditions that are recorded in the film are not left unchallenged, but rather the difficulty of the clash between tradition and modernity become clear throughout the film, whether through the film makers self examinations, the doctor's use of "anito" (spirits) to introduce modern medical techniques, or even the difficulty a young yami encounters in organizing an anti-nuclear rally, due to his youth.
The film is an interesting exploration of the cultural and folk traditions of the Yami on Orchid Island, but also of the malignant nature of the ethnographer's presence and the change that comes with a culture's self-awareness. The moulding of Yami's customs to the eye of the other, in this case the Taiwanese, which they access through the medium of television, brings the Yami to resent this view of themselves as inferior.
As mentioned in the post "私角落 Corners", there is an interesting article by Kuei Fen Chiu discussing the way this film broke new ground in representing the unrepresented through certain cinemagraphic techniques. I have the link for those that are interested, post below if you'd like me to send it to you.
Here's a short preview of the documentary:
Film Rating: 4/5
《蘭嶼觀點》 胡台麗 1993
邱貴芬在〈A Vision of New Taiwan Documentary〉透過探討這部電影的拍攝技巧，嘉許此片的開拓性。