Last year at this time, Taiwan was embroiled in a massive student movement, when activists occupied Taiwan’s national legislature for almost a month. Although the protest was ostensibly about China, it brought out frustrations with Taiwan’s democratic system, as well as with a sense of helplessness within the globalized economy.

At this important juncture, we talk with Ho Chao-ti, the producer of the documentary Sunflower Occupation, to take stock of this momentous event in Taiwan’s history, and what it means for Taiwan one year later.

Producer Ho is a member of the board at the Taipei Documentary Filmmakers Union, and is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker herself. She was one of two producers of the film Sunflower Occupation, the special documentary project about last year’s student protest against the Cross Straits Services Trade Agreement, with China.

Ketagalan Media (KM): Thank you Producer Ho, for taking your time out to talk about the documentary “Sunflower Occupation.”

Ho Chao-ti (Ho): And thank you for inviting me on this anniversary of the Sunflower Movement; I think it’s important for KM to look at Taiwan’s place and voice in the world from a broader perspective.

KM: Thank you for the encouragement! First can you talk about how the film came about? How was the team formed?

Ho: The Sunflower Movement was a very important event in Taiwan’s history. For us, there is a “Documentary Filmmakers’ Union”, the only one of its kind, treating filmmakers as laborers. We have operated for eight years, and so we already had experience working with each other. Last year when the protests began, we saw a lot of our colleagues filming on scene and recording the event. As a director of the Union, at the time I thought we need a systematic and complete record of such a watershed incident.

It was not until the bloody crackdown on March 23rd that we had an emergency meeting, and organized up volunteers to record the unfolding events. We needed people to film 24 hours a day, so we won’t have to only rely on mainstream media reporting.

Speaking of which, as the movement began, mainstream media controlled most of the narrative. As documentary filmmakers, we have a healthy dose of skepticism towards mainstream media, because the mainstream represents the majority—it’s dictated by the market. Our job was to give a voice the alternative, minority opinions, and so I see our work as a battle to control the narrative.

KM: People say, “journalism is the rough draft of history,” so you didn’t want mainstream media to be the only ones writing that draft?

Ho: Yes. The question is who wrote this draft, is it a version for the people, or for corrupt politicians? Or for market consumption?

KM: You mentioned a lot of people were filming right from the start, were they doing at as “activists” or “filmmakers”? You were part of the movement, but also observers, how do you deal with conflicts of interest, or trying to stay objective?

Ho: Many of our members were very involved in the movement, and of the nine of the directors of the film, one of them went inside the parliament building [during the occupation by protesters] without his camera. His friends said, “why didn’t you bring your camera? If you are not going to contribute, don’t hog the space!” So he started filming.

As observers, we have a great deal of respect for the activists. They are two different sets of expertise. It’s very difficult to be an activist, and they deserve our respect. I don’t think just by recording we can easily call ourselves activists. Of course, we can understand their thinking (since we are also often opposite the mainstream opinion), and we both ponder about the meaning behind an oppressed opinion. That allows both filmmakers and activists to work closely together.

Second question about objectivity. Let’s be honest; documentaries are not objective. There has to be a certain perspective, and it’s extremely important. Because our job is not to provide “both sides,” rather to ask questions and provide an answer. So we are not objective. This doesn’t mean we are biased, but we need to have a perspective.

KM: This film is very different, because it was done very very quickly. There are nine directors each making a segment. Can you talk about that process?

Ho: We had two producers, nine directors, and 24-person camera crew and 42 other people who provided footage for our database. Including the editors, music, animators, our team was over 100 people. Since the directors were all members of our Union, we were colleagues to start with. However we spent a lot of time discussing what should we record? How do we tell the story? Who are the characters? Do we make one long film or small vignettes? We had many meetings to hash out those questions. We actually screened all of our rough cuts to the whole team, which is very unusual, because we are opening ourselves to criticism at every step.

KM: In the introduction, it says that “once the youth stormed the parliament, they had to answer ‘what is democracy? What is government? What is fairness?’” Do you think they found the answer this past year? Or did they get closer to the answer?

Ho: I can only speak as a filmmaker, an observer. Personally, I think there is no absolute answer. It will be a very long path, taking maybe even an entire generation’s time. I believe simple answers are dangerous—because they are not well thought out, or did not involve a grassroots democratic process.

I believe we see a few possible openings, one year later. Some of the youth are forming new political parties, some other NGOs are reenergized and working in all corners of Taiwan. I think that’s positive. Of course the movement did not happen overnight, it was the release of energy that had been accumulating for a long time. So the aftermath, too, will take a while to unfold. People ask why there were only nine topics, what about this or that issue? But it took us seven months to make a film that usually takes three years. The full picture has 2,000 puzzle pieces, we only picked up nine. I think all civic activity, like political parties or media like KM, through interviews, radio shows, public forums, artwork, seminars, we can diversify our collection of those puzzle pieces.
We need more public discourse in Taiwan. A lot of talking is done in private, but we cannot converge them into a resource for common use. It’s important to make these things public—to make those 2,000 pieces part of the public realm. Even if they are conflicting, that’s ok, we should have them all out in the open.

KM: Within these 2,000 puzzle pieces, do you see any changes in opinions that were against the movement this past year?

Ho: I think they are also still developing. I have to admit, the movement has become somewhat mainstream too. We have to reflect how we can improve our particular version of the events.

KM: It’s just a rough draft, right?

Ho: Yes! We need people to critique and oppose our work too, to bring out other voices that didn’t get to speak. It’s relative, who is mainstream and who is not. After the movement became politically correct, we have to think about the voices we covered up. Some of the directors from this film are pursuing the same topics still.

KM: Relatively speaking, when you put Taiwan’s narrative in a more global context, it is also a minority voice. For example, Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution garnered a lot more coverage by Western mainstream media. What do you think about that?

Ho: I believe we need a new set of vocabulary, a new global language to explain what is happening in Taiwan. The way we talk about our issues is very internal, and hard for outsiders to relate to. Also, our mainstream media is used to focusing on very trivial things, or gossip, but very incapable of understanding world trends. It’s not a matter of English, because many foreign correspondents are fluent in Mandarin. The question is, how do we tell a story about ourselves that is global.

Another thing, I think compared to China, Taiwan is just at a disadvantage. People care about China, they want to understand it, because it poses as a threat. Taiwan is not a threat, so people don’t feel as urgent about it. It’s a very practical issue.

KM: So China has a reason why people have to care. Does Taiwan need to come up with a reason why people should care? Not that Taiwan should become a threat, but we need to come up with an explanation, a narrative to convince everyone else. You were a journalist for a long time, how was that different from being a documentary filmmaker?

Ho: As the movement was happening, I thought Taiwan’s mainstream media’s attitude was more “peeping” at the whole thing, because it was a very sensational story they can play up. We didn’t see any in-depth analysis, those I had to find online. What were the short and long term causes and effects?

Mainstream media is dependent on the political economy, and they all have their political stance too (even if they present “both sides.”) Our media is also very heavily influenced by China. As documentary filmmakers, we had to go through layer after layer of fog that the media gave us, to know what’s happening. Our topic wasn’t to look at the fog itself, but we haven’t really touched on the root causes of such a large movement. Hopefully we will have more documentaries on these questions.

KM: We were going to ask about sequels but I think we’ve answered that questions somehow! Just want to know, what are the next steps for the filmmakers?

Ho: We won’t have a “Sunflower Occupation II”, but we are working on a database of footage from the entire movement. As I mentioned I am encouraging people to come forward, and put their puzzle pieces into the public realm. If anyone wants to use the footage for non-profit purposes, we will provide the footage for very low fees. The footage are all primary source, shot mostly by mobile phones.

I believe we must have a public database, and not one created by mainstream media, only with the perspective they like. This will have the voice of the people, the minority. Also it would be cost-prohibitive for independent filmmakers to access them, so we want to have a public resource for them.

KM: Thank you so much for your time, and I’ve learned a lot about objectivity, media, and how to reflect on such a watershed event in Taiwan’s history.

Ho: Thank you.

一年前,一場顛覆性的學生社會運動,在台灣發生;代表公民意志的國會,被佔領了將近一個月。太陽花學運雖然抗議與中國的服務貿易協定,但是它激發了社會挑戰民主制度的缺陷,與台灣在全球化資本主義下的無奈。

一年後的今天,我們與「太陽,不遠」紀錄片製片人之一賀照緹對談,希望可以或許回頭評估紀錄這場運動的過程,台灣在一年後的變化,以及如何與國際對話台灣發生的一切。

Ketagalan Media (以下 KM):今天謝謝賀製片,給我們這個時間談一下「太陽,不遠」這部紀錄片的一些觀察與想法。

賀照緹製片(以下「賀」):也很感謝 KM 的邀請,KM 很難得能以比較宏觀的立場去看台灣在國際位置上的發聲,我覺得是滿重要的;製作這個影片到現在約滿一年,看看 KM 有沒有特別想要了解的問題。

KM:賀製片過獎了。首先我們想要了解為什麼要拍「太陽,不遠」這部紀錄片?團隊怎麼形成的?

賀:太陽花運動在台灣是一個很重要的事件,台灣有一個獨立紀錄片組織「紀錄片工會」,是華人唯一的一個自主性團體,由台灣的獨立紀錄片工作者組成的,取名「工會」是認為紀錄片工作者也是勞動者,「紀錄片工會」在去年已經成立第八年,所以各個紀錄片工作者在合作上已有些默契,當太陽花運動發生的時候,我們到現場就已經可以看到很多夥伴、導演、製片人等等拿著攝影機在現場紀錄;我是「紀錄片工會」的監事,在運動進行當時我心中有個焦慮,認為這個事件會發展到非常大,難以預期未來的規模,且一定會是一個重要的運動,那現場到底有沒有完整且精華的紀錄?

一直到 3/23~24 號行政院大規模的流血鎮壓行動後,「紀錄片工會」緊急的開了會,召集有意願的會員來幫忙做有系統的紀錄,至少我們需要 24 小時都有攝影師在現場紀錄,以免到時候紀錄片的素材變成只有傾於主流大眾媒體的說法,這個會議開得很倉促,但有很多人都是義務的來幫忙。

所以核心的精神是我們有觀察到在台灣,早期對於太陽花運動有發 言權的其實都是大眾媒體,做為紀錄片工作者,我們一向對於大眾媒體是比較有戒心,大眾媒體代表的是社會絕大多數人的主流價值,也是非常市場取向,但紀錄片工作者很重要的角色是紀錄社會非主流的聲音為何,這牽涉到對事件的詮釋權的爭奪,我把它視為一個詮釋權的爭奪戰,我們應該站在主流媒體的另外一邊去把詮釋 權搶奪下來。

KM:新聞學說:「新聞是歷史的草稿」,你們抱著不能只讓他們去寫草稿的觀點來做紀錄片嗎?

賀:是,這牽涉到草稿是誰寫的,版本是誰的,是屬於人民的還是黑金政治政客?還是我們無法控制的市場?

KM:你有提到很多夥伴第一時間就在現場做紀錄,那他們是以記錄者的身分還是運動者的身分在場?還是你們因為拍這部紀錄片而融入了整場運動,角色扮演上要怎麼處理個人的立場?要怎麼屏除立場客觀得紀錄?還是你們認為沒有「客觀」的必要性?跟運動者之間的合作與衝突怎麼處理?

賀:第一個問題回答我們是運動者還是紀錄者,我們有很多成員是非常進入這個運動的,他們一開始就已經進入立法院,九個合作導演中有一位本來甚至不是帶著攝影機進去立法院,他當時就是運動參與者的身分,還被周遭的朋友笑:「明明是紀錄片導演怎麼沒帶攝影機?來這邊佔一個位置浪費有限的資源,你下次還是帶著攝影 機進來吧!」於是他就乖乖的把攝影機帶進去。

有一個很重要的概念是做為紀錄者是非常尊敬運動者的,紀錄者跟運動者是兩種非常不一樣的專業,很多人以為做運動很簡單,但事實上很困難,他是一個需要我們去尊敬與尊重的專業,所以我並不認為一個紀錄者可以輕易的僭越這樣的角色來聲稱自己就是運動 者,我們構不上運動者的專業度,雖然可以說我們理解運動者的想法,因為紀錄片工作者也常常站在主流的對立面去看,一個比較被壓抑的聲音背後深刻的意義是什麼?而這些理解與同理會讓紀錄者與運動者常常走在一起,這是一個紀錄與願意被紀錄者的合作關係。

第二個是「主觀」與「客觀」的問題,我們很常被問到是否「客觀」,我必須很直白的說紀錄片永遠不會是客觀的,紀錄片一定是帶有觀點的,而且紀錄片提出觀點是非常重要的一環,因為我們不只是一個兩面俱呈的媒體,不像每日新聞有個基本的操作方式是給了正方的意見後一定要給反方的意見,讓大家知道兩方的爭議與矛盾是什麼,紀錄片必須問出問題,給出對於問題的觀點,所以我們並不是客觀的,但這也不表示我們是獨斷的,我們是有觀點的。

KM:下一個問題是,這部片跟其他紀錄片很不一樣,因為他是一個倉促成軍下的產物,是因應這個事件所產生出來的,有九位導演合作下的產品,中間的合作過程可以跟我們聊一下嗎?

賀:我們一共有兩位製片、九位導演一起工作,在這背後還有更龐大的團隊,24 位攝影師,42 位的義務工作者在幫忙做紀錄,提供了他們拍攝的素材,來做為我們資料庫的形成,再加上周邊的剪接師、配樂、動畫人員等等,這其實是一個超過百人的團隊,最核心的當然是這九位導演,然後拍出九部的短片,而我們合作的方式就 是有些建立在從剛剛提到的「紀錄片工會」之前合作的默契,工作起來還滿容易的,第二個就是我們花很長的時間做討論,從要紀錄什麼?故事要怎麼說?人物是誰?要拍哪些人?要拍哪些事件?最後我們要把所有的素材打散變成長片?還是我們用許多短片來呈現?我們開了非常多的會,在這些工作會議裡面他其實就是凝聚共識的過程,而紀錄片在完成之前會有很多的初剪,我們的初剪是放給所有的工作人員與導演觀看討論,這其實對於紀錄片導演是個很大的挑戰,通常我們都不太願意把初剪拿出去給所有人做評論,我們只會給我們想要聽意見的人看,這是一個要心臟很強才能做的事情,所以我們的導演們都非常棒,心胸開闊的接受很多意見, 我們就是在這樣不斷磨合的過程裡面去凝聚合作的默契。

KM:電影簡介裡面有提到,青年們衝進立法院後面對最基本的追問是:「什麼是民主?什麼是政府?什麼是公平?」您認為在這一年來他們有找到這些答案了嗎?或者是他們有沒有離答案更近一點呢?

賀:我只能提出一個紀錄者觀點的觀察報告,比較不會有僭越自己身分的危險,就如同我剛說的行動者是個令人尊敬的專業,我自己的觀察是:這絕對沒有一個簡單的答案,這個答案可能要走非常非常的久,甚至要走一整個世代這麼的久,我自己相信「簡單的答案」會有一些危機,他可能會是一個粗暴的過程,或者是一個沒有辦法達到真正草根民主精神過程的答案。

我認為,至少台灣在青年世代的部分有找掉一些可能性的出口,一年後的現在我們已經看到一些青年團體開始組黨,有一些 NGO 在太陽花運動這次的爆發後得到了豐沛的能量,充斥在台灣的各地,所以我覺得整個發展的過程是讓人滿樂觀的;當然太陽花運動不是一天之內發生的,他是聚集了非常久的時間與能量,所以事件爆發後延續的發展我們還需要一段時間的觀察,很多人問我們,這個紀錄片一共有九個主題,那為什麼其他的主題沒有被包含在內?我覺得這個事件累積了非常久,有很長時間的醞釀,所以他其實是一個內容豐富而精采的運動,但我們事實上製作這部片只有六七個月的時間,就一個正規紀錄片的做法是需要至少三年的時間來完成這種紀錄,如果要把這個事件做到窮盡要說清楚而且有深刻的觀點,就會像一個拼圖的過程,兩千片的拼圖我們現在只有九塊,我覺得所有公民力量像是組黨或是 NGO 或是像 KM 這樣的媒體來談這件事,都可以透過各種不同的形式,像是紀錄片、廣播節目、公共論壇、藝術創作、發言、研討會等等都可以讓這個拼圖變的豐富而多采。

台灣很缺乏公共論壇,很多事情都是私下談,這樣沒有辦法行程一種匯聚給公共資源的公共論述,我覺得這些事情讓他公共化是非常重要的,如果這兩千片的拼圖可以很公共化的被看到,即使中間有很多矛盾,像是現在組黨運動的矛盾,我認為都沒有關係,這些都是公共化的在處理台灣內部的矛盾。

KM:在這兩千塊的拼圖中,反對或是沉默的聲音,有沒有機會去觀察到自己過去這一年的演變?

賀:我覺得他們還在發展中,相對而言,我們必須承認這部片出來後我們也變成了「小主流」,我們應該要做一些反省,因為這部片也不是一個最完美的呈現,他只是很快的捕捉到事情的形貌,只是事情的一個版本。

KM:一個草稿。

賀:對,他的不足之處就需要很多人來反對他,很多沒有被呈現出來的聲音能夠有機會說出來:「為什麼我們沒有被提到?我們的聲音是…」等等,差異是相對的,「認同」雖然是運動很重要的過程,但你剛剛問的「差異爭執」的問題,差異的相對性會讓許多較小的聲音越來越被蓋住,所以幫我們變成「小主流」後,我們要去反省我們蓋掉了什麼聲音?如何在未來的場合有機會讓他們發聲?就我所知,這幾位導演有些人還繼續在拍放在「太陽,不遠」裡面的主題,像之前拍過「公民不服從」的那位導演,他也在拍當時3/23鎮暴後的青年們後續的狀況是怎樣,所以這需要很長的過程才能把這些話說清楚。

KM:我們講到被掩蓋住的小聲音,放到國際的觀點來看,像香港的佔中有許多西方國際媒體的關注,而當時太陽花也希望有許多西方的媒體來報導,雖然不能說是沒有,但跟香港比起來還是差很多,您對於西方媒體關注台灣時勢或是議題的態度有什麼樣的看法?

賀:我覺得他需要轉換一個語彙,去用更國際化的語言說清楚台灣內部發生什麼事情,我自己住在台灣的觀察是黝許多討論是非常內部的,內部到外界很難去理解,而另外一個層次的問題是我們的大眾媒體已經習慣於雞毛蒜皮的小事情,講一些緋聞笑話類的問題,可是對於國際觀點的能力卻非常薄弱,這個都影響了國際上如何能夠了解台灣,因為事實上常駐在台灣的國際媒體記者中文也非常好,這不是語言的問題,而是我們如何把這些語言在很內化的狀態把台灣外部化;另外就是國際上對於台灣跟中國間的關注,的確是很不一樣,這是我們先天比較劣勢的部分,我自己在兩岸三地有做一些協助年輕導演的工作,有一個很重要的觀察是西方的製片市場,在看同樣的題材發聲在台灣與中國,他們就是比較會購買中國的作品,因為他們急切的想要了解中國,中國的強大對許多國家都是威脅,了解中國與看懂中國變成一個很重要的市場,所以相對來說台灣並沒有對他們造成威脅,這是一個很現實的問題。

KM:所以是中國有一個理由讓大家非得關注他不可,因為他造成威脅,如果台灣要提高能見度就必須要有一個必須被關注的理由?當然不是說台灣要去鬧事或是去造成別人的威脅,而是我們應該要找出一種語言一種框架來解釋為什麼其他國家的人要關注台灣。您之前是資深的記者,在媒體界待過一段很長的時間,您覺得記者的觀點與紀錄片工作者的觀點有什麼不一樣?主流媒體有哪些盲點是紀錄片工作者看得到的?

賀:在太陽花運動發生的時候,我覺得主流媒體還是有「窺奇」的味道,因為實在是太讓他們興奮了居然有一群年輕人去攻占立法院,台灣的主流媒體就因此是主流媒體,可是比較缺乏的是我們看不到主流媒體深入的分析,如果是我自己要做研究我可能要主動去網路上找一些比較能夠有深入探討的文字媒體,事情背後的遠因近因到底是什麼?就主流媒體來說,有一個很重要的問題就是主流媒體因為背後政治經濟的背景,造成媒體在呈現新聞故事的時候是非常有立場的,他們即使有做兩面俱呈的動作,但立場還是非常鮮明,再加上台灣有很多重要的媒體被中國影響的狀況非常嚴重,這是一個很重要的警訊,以紀錄片拍攝來看,我們必須去穿過一層一層的媒體的霧霾,去了解霧霾下的這個城市到底發生了什麼問題,雖然這不是媒體分析的紀錄片,我們不需要去分析這個霧霾的成因是什麼,但我們需要更深的扎根到土地的深處來了解造成這個國家、發生運動的城市之所以發生這麼巨大的運動背後深刻的原因有哪些,這個是我們在這個紀錄片還沒有作到,但想要在以後跟太陽花運動有關的紀錄片可以做到更多的分析。

KM:本來是想要續問有沒有續集的規劃,但剛才的訪談幾乎已經回答了這個問題,「太陽,不遠」可能不會有續集的形式,但後續還會有許多紀錄這個運動帶來的影響與社會變動的回顧,會讓我們更深入的了解當時的事件,所以會有後續的一些計畫跟想法?

賀:可能不會是一個「太陽,不遠。二」續集的形式,可是現在我們正在進行一件事,剛剛有提到我們有42位朋友義務提供影像給紀錄片工會,於是我們建製了一個太陽花運動紀錄片工會的工作小組,裡面有影像資料庫,除了對個別的訪問之外,現場的場景,當時到底大約發生什麼事的素材我們都有,都存在紀錄片工會裡面,就像我剛說過兩千片的拼圖,我們只佔九塊,所以我們很鼓勵很歡迎第十塊、第十一塊的拼圖一直拼下去,所以以後如果有人要做非營利式的用途,紀錄片工會會以非常低的手續費讓大家取得這些素材,這樣的計畫原先是我提的,就大約在 3/23 那天提出來,因為大家都有手機,很多素材都是用手機拍下的。

我在那個晚上想的事情是一定要有一個資料庫是人民建立起來的,而不是主流媒體的資料庫,其一是因為主流媒體的資料庫拍攝角度會是他們自己想要的,卻不是人民或者比較弱勢這邊的聲音,其二是一般在做影像如果要跟主流媒體買素材,那都是天價,我覺得這對於獨立工作者來說是一個過大的負擔,所以才提議要成立資料 庫,讓他變成公共財,他需要具有公共財的精神,可是因為紀錄片工會需要運轉,所以我們需要收小額的處理費來支應我們行政人員的支出,這個資料庫,會是一個如果未來有續集的話的一個可能性,所以我們也很歡迎大家來使用這個資料庫,那另外就是我們有些導演繼續在拍一些他們有興趣的題目。

KM:那「太陽,不遠」這部紀錄片在兩千片的拼圖裡面有九塊,照這樣算起來至少會有再十九部?開玩笑的,可能不能這麼算,今天非常謝謝賀製片跟我們談了這麼多,讓我自己也很深刻的思考了紀錄、媒體,不同的形式要怎麼去看這麼大的事件,怎麼去思考這麼大的事件,非常謝謝您今天的時間。

賀:謝謝。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Feature photo of youth at the Sunflower Movement, by Alysa Chiu.)

 

About The Ketagalan Project

History and culture are the frames that prescribe how we understand the world around us. Our co-hosts present in-depth interviews on how art, culture, history and politics intertwine throughout time and space to connect us. Find out about the cosmopolitan modern Taipei downtown in the 1920s, regional trade, the future of aboriginal culture and more.