Although the anthology format is common enough in Asian cinema, “10+10” offers something a little different, not to mention more densely packed and diverse, cramming in no less than 20 short films, each no longer than 5 minutes in length, directed by the 10 industry veterans and 10 newcomers of the title. The collection was a project launched by the Golden Horse Film Festival, planned to tie in Taiwan’s 100th anniversary, each of the films being linked by the running theme of promoting the island’s uniqueness and culture. The results are really quite fascinating, with the film makers involved having produced a surprising and hugely varied package that covers a wide range of genres and forms.
Without going into too much detail, the short films included (not in order) are:
• “The Ritual” (Wang Tong)
• “The Orphans” (Chu Yen Ping)
• “100” (Ho Wi Ding)
• “A Grocery Called Forever” (Wu Nien Jen)
• “Bus Odyssey” (Shen Ko Shang)
• “Destined Eruption” (Wang Shau Di)
• “Green Island Serenade” (Hou Chi Jan)
• “The Dusk of the Gods” (Sylvia Chang)
• “Sparkles” (Chang Tso Chi)
• “Hippocamp Hair Salon” (Chen Yu Hsun)
• “The Debut” (Chen Kuo Fu)
• “Lane 256” (Arvin Chen)
• “The Singing Boy” (Gillies Yang)
• “Old Man and Me” (Cheng Wen Tang)
• “Unwritten Rules” (Cheng Yu Chieh)
• “Something’s Gotta Give” (Xiao Ya Quan)
• “Key” (Leon Dai)
• “Reverberation” (Chung Mong Hong)
• “Debut” (Wei Te Sheng)
• “La Belle Epoque” (Hou Hsiao Hsien)
“10+10” really does cover pretty much all imaginable bases, with short films that range from mini war epics (“Sparkle”), through to lingerie comedy (“Something’s Gotta Give”) and even violent home invasion shocks (“Reverberation”), some taking traditional genre approaches and others aiming for art house oddness. Thankfully, the films all generally steer clear either from the nationalism or picture postcard tourism that might have been expected from a collection designed to espouse Taiwanese uniqueness, instead providing an excellent showcase for the creativity and imagination of the island’s directors. Perhaps inevitably some of the shorts are more likely to mean something to local audiences, though there’s a great deal here for viewers in general to enjoy.
The 5 minute format actually suits the film very well indeed, keeping things bouncing along at a fast, if at times dizzying pace. This also helps to sidestep one of the usual problems experienced by anthology films, since if the viewer isn’t fond of one segment, there’s never long to wait until the next. In general, the level of quality is pretty impressive, with plenty of highpoints scattered throughout, the most memorable including Cheng Yu Chieh’s amusing “Unwritten Rules”, in which a film maker tries to diplomatically work around shooting a scene involving the national flag, Wang Tong’s equally hilarious “The Ritual”, following an attempt to screen a 3D blockbuster in a graveyard, and Chen Yu Hsun’s “Hippocamp Hair Salon”, a highly effective short story with an excellent hook that leads to an excellently gruesome conclusion. Low-points are relatively few and far between, with even the more ponderous and obtuse shorts showing impressive visuals, and it’s only really “Orphans”, Chu Yen Ping’s film dealing with a mentally challenged young woman interspersed with wartime flashbacks, and Wei Te Sheng’s “Debut”, following actor Lin Ching Tai as he heads to the Venice Film Festival to promote Taiwanese blockbuster “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale” which miss the mark. Oddly enough, the film’s most prestigious and renowned director Hou Hsiao Hsien doesn’t contribute anything of standout value, his Shu Qi starring “La Belle Epoque” being merely pleasant.
Overall though, “10+10” is a great deal of fun, and is both an impressive advert for Taiwanese cinema and a highly enjoyable anthology collection in its own right. The 20 shorts combine very well indeed, and the fast moving film is rich in variety and high on entertainment value, with rarely a dull moment throughout.
Directors / Tso-chi Chan, Arvin Chen, Kuo-fu Chen, Yu-Hsun Chen, Wen-Tang Cheng, Yu-Chieh Cheng, Yen-ping Chu, Mong-Hong Chung, Wi Ding Ho, Chi-jan Hou
Starring / Tsai Ming-hsiu, Hsieh Chi-wen, Nikki Hsieh, Chang Fang-yi, Cheng Chin-shan, Li Hou Lou-yuan, Kou Chia-jui, Jenny Liao, Peggy Tseng, Doris Wang, Chen Yu-hsun, Chi Lu-hsia, Jian Man-shu, Huang He River