|This month City543 explores one of the biggest forms of entertainment in the context of Taiwan, from Ang Lee to Martin Scorsese’s Silence to the New Wave Cinema Movement to Taipei’s best film festivals.|
Bursting with dramatic scenery and skyscrapers, the small island of Taiwan is growing as the go-to Asian film hub for many of Hollywood’s biggest flicks. Whether you are one of Hollywood’s biggest directors (Yes, we’re waiting for you Steven Spielberg, David Fincher and Christopher Nolan) or an independent filmmaker looking to direct your own short, this handy guide should make location scouting a piece of Pi.
Constructed in 1980, the neo-classical style white structure with its blue roof is the most prominent historical and political landmark in Taiwan. Along with a spacious square and the Chinese National Theater and National Concert Hall, the complex’s many elements are grandiose and evocative of Chinese palatial design, including a marble arch gate and an imperial-style central staircase.
There’s every reason to look for a Japanese setting in Taipei, as Taiwan was Japanese’s first overseas colony. Pine Zen Garden is a Japanese restaurant that sits quietly amongst the pine forest of Yangmingshan. It retains every characteristic of Japanese aesthetics—simple, elegant and with restraint. With a verdant garden and mountainous scenery, Pine Zen Garden is perfect for a countryside production or your next Akira Kurosawa-esque epic.
Taiwan’s best-preserved baroque architecture is found at the island’s highest supervision organization, highlighting the influence of European arts and architecture on the 20th century Japanese imperialists. From the Byzantine-style domes to the red brick walls, the Control Yuan is a popular spot for wedding shoots. This gorgeous relic celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
The modernism of the tallest building in Taiwan comes when East meets West—the combination of western skyscraper architecture with bamboo-inspired Chinese design. The structure is even more beautiful when it is illuminated at night, particularly every New Year’s Eve when fireworks erupt from the skyscraper.
The wall-less Taipei National University of Art is a Western-style campus filled with red brick, gray wall buildings with black-tile roofs, as well as an endless grass patch that stretches along a mountain slope littered with sculptures and art installations. At once an outdoor museum and a college, the campus—the setting for the Taiwanese film Love—would serve well as the location for teen films.
Forested mountains, hot springs, rolling grass hills—the mountains of the breathtaking Yangmingshan National Park welcomes visitors any time of year: Spring is the floral season, summer is ideal for hiking; in the fall, visitors come to enjoy the autumnal scenery, whilst winter welcomes a sea of mists and clouds, perhaps reminiscent of scenes from a Zhang Yimou wuxia film.
Constructed during the Japanese colonial era, the abandoned Taipei Railway Workshop was once the main base for train maintenance and modifications. Today, visitors can still find the abandoned railways, air raid shelter, employee dormitory and even the bathhouse, making for the perfect meeting spot for gangsters in your next neo-noir crime film.
This shrine marks the memory of the almost 400,000 soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting for the Republic of China. The magnificent complex built in 1969 is in the style typical of Chinese palaces, modeled after Taihe Dian Imperial Palace in Beijing. Sitting on the hill and facing Keelung River, the shrine itself is a serene yet solemn tourist spot.
Constructed in the late 1920s, the Taipei Confucius Temple is a handsome example of the blend of Minnan-style architecture with Taiwanese decorative art that would serve well as the backdrop of many a period piece. From the beams to columns, the decorations are nothing ostentatious, symbolizing the modesty central to Confucianism.
This Western-style red-brick octagonal structure is an excellent choice for a retro theater setting and the most iconic building in Ximending that once served as Taipei’s first public market. These days, it’s a multifunctional cultural center with regular live performances and activities. In the south court, you will find a number of restaurants and gay bars.
Whether your character is a drug smuggler or chasing a loved one, airports are often crucial destinations in a film. Founded in 1936, Taipei’s Songshan Airport is now a military airbase and an in-town airport that serves mainly domestic flights. Appearing in a number of Asian films, this airport is a nice option if you are doing a new adaptation of Casablanca, for example.
Just like Canary Wharf in London and Midtown Manhattan in New York, Xinyi District is the most prosperous area in Taipei. By day, the trendsetting space bustles with the fast-pacing energy of business as Taipei’s commercial and financial center. Yet at night, the crowds, neon lights, boutiques, hotels and illuminated skyscrapers set a vibrant mood.
Many memorable moments in film history have taken place inside the walls of art museums (See: The Da Vinci Code, Vertigo); the National Taipei Museum is your museum for such shoots in Taiwan. The island’s first public museum is one of the most representative examples of Japanese colonial architecture imitating classical Western architecture.
Located at ATT4FUN in Xinyi District, MYST is the largest of all nightclub in Taipei. This venue has both two indoor bars, a huge stage and dance floor and a terrace with a stunning night view of Taipei City. If your production includes a clubbing scene as Luc Besson’s Lucy did, Myst is the place to be.
There’s a reason the W Taipei has proven itself to be the most popular hotel with celebrities visiting Taiwan in recent days. Besides being smack dab in the heart of the Xinyi District, this avant-garde hotel is filled with a lot of wood and stone chic decoration, as well as a cutting-edge light installation. The spectacular view of the Taipei skyline ain’t half bad either.
all images via the Taipei Film Commission
This post is presented by Forte Orange Hotel 福泰桔子商務旅館