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[April 18 at 5:30 pm] HU Tai-Li Memorial Lecture & Film Screening with Scott Simon (in-person only)

March 16, 2023

The UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program is honored to invite you to a memorial film screening and lecture honoring Dr. HU Tai-Li on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at 5:30 pm, at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

In memory of Dr. HU Tai-Li, the evening features an in-person screening of the first locally made ethnographic film in Taiwan, The Return of Gods and Ancestors, by Dr. HU Tai-Li, and a lecture by Professor Scott Simon about Dr. Hu’s work and the influence of her pioneering ethnographic documentary practice in Taiwan. There will also be a reception honoring and celebrating Dr. Hu’s contributions on the study of ethnic relations in Taiwan.

IN-PERSON ONLY. Registration is required to attend the memorial lecture and screening at the Burke Museum.

Visit to register.

Screening | The Return of Gods and Ancestors: Paiwan Five Year Ceremony (HU Tai-Li, 1985) | 35 mins

The Return of Gods and Ancestors is the first locally made ethnographic film in Taiwan. The film, captured with a hand-cranked Bell & Howell 16 mm camera, documents the  magnificent five-year ceremony of the Paiwan tribe.

During the festival, the Paiwan people expect to receive blessings of the gods and ancestors by piercing rattan balls with extended bamboo poles; however, they also try to prevent any harm caused by evil spirits.

The Paiwan five year ceremony is not only the reunion of the dead and the living, but a meeting of the old and the new.

Filmmaker | Dr. HU Tai-Li (1950-2022)

“…Hu Tai Li’s films should be mandatory viewing for anyone in Taiwan studies. Future generations of filmmakers in Taiwan will owe a great debt to her.”
— Marc L. Moskowitz, American Anthropologist, 2008

HU Tai-Li  pioneered documentary ethnography in Taiwan. She was a research fellow at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica in Taiwan; a professor at National Tsing Hua University, and the president of Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival. After graduating from the History Department of the National Taiwan University, she entered the City University of New York, and obtained her Ph.D. degree in anthropology.

Since 1984, she had directed and produced seven ethnographic films, The Return of Gods and AncestorsSongs of Pasta’ayVoices of Orchid IslandPassing Through My Mother-in-law’s VillageSounds of Love and SorrowStone Dream; and Returning Souls, and published six books.

Her films won the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival’s “The Best Documentary Film Award”, Chicago International Film Festival’s “Silver Plaque Award,” Houston International Film Festival’s “Gold Special Jury Award,” and Taiwan International Documentary Festival Jury’s Special Mention Award. Her film, Passing Through My Mother-in-law’s Village, is the first documentary film screened at commercial theaters in Taiwan with great success.

Lecture | Professor Scott Simon

Scott Simon (University of Ottawa), is a socio-anthropologist trained in both disciplines (anthropology and sociology). Co-holder of the Chair of Taiwan Studies at the University of Ottawa, he has lived in Taiwan for ten years and returns annually for field research. His research interests include Indigenous rights, development, the contribution of Taiwan to the Indo-Pacific, Taiwan’s international status, and Canada-Taiwan relations. He has written four books and numerous articles about Taiwan. He does policy-oriented research as member of the Centre for International Policy Studies and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa, and as Senior Fellow at Ottawa’s Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

Based on two decades of ethnographic field research, Professor Simon’s monograph, Truly Human: Indigeneity and Indigenous Resurgence on Formosa (forthcoming in May 2023), portrays the Sediq and Truku Indigenous peoples’ lifeworlds, teachings, political struggles for recognition, and relations with non-human animals. Taking seriously their ontological claims that Gaya offers moral guidance to all humans, Truly Human reflects on what this particular form of Indigenous resurgence reveals about human rights, sovereignty, and the good of all kind.

The entire Dr. HU Tai-Li memorial program, including this evening honoring Dr. Hu, is a collective effort between the UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program and its generous partners: the UW East Asia Center with Title VI funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the DER Documentary Educational Resources, and the UW Tateuchi East Asia Library.