Hope springs in low-budget drama Panay [Review]

Hope springs in low-budget drama Panay [Review]

In Panay, the lush fields of the indigenous people living on Taiwan’s east coast are in jeopardy. The water ditches supplying water to the fields have been blocked, and farming is futile, so the tribesmen are warming to the idea of selling the land to a developer. Not only would that mean money now, it would offer them so they would have job opportunities after the luxurious hotels are built there.

But this seems all wrong to Panay (Ado Kaliting Pacidal), who returned home from Taipei to look after her ailing father. The land belongs to her ancestors and her children. To pay for medical expenses, Panay has the choice to either sell her family’s land, or figure out a way to fix the ditches and restore farming. She goes for the latter, despite growing tensions with her daughter Nakaw (Dongi Kacaw).

Panay’s struggle to encourage her wary tribesmen and to fight big corporations is reflective of the real challenges Taiwanese indigenous people face as the country’s economy develops. The film is clearly on the side of the tribesmen, not even bothering to give the developer a face on screen (all communication is done by phone).

Directors Cheng Yu-chieh and Lekal Sumi celebrate traditional lifestyle through prolonged scenes of tribesmen netting seafood in the dead of night, planting crops, and performing religious rituals while folk songs play in the background.

For a small budget film, the low-key drama is beautifully shot and well-performed - but the plot offers few surprises.

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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Hope springs in low-budget drama

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