It all started 10 years ago, when David Frazier experimented with the idea of having a party, playing some movies, drinking some beers, and calling it a film festival.
10 years later, the Urban Nomad Film Fest has become the largest independent film festival in Taiwan, featuring 11 international long films in the span of 10 days, admitting over 300 contenders’ short films for the local contest, and attracting about 40,000 people to the warehouse-like cinema to watch Taiwan’s rarest film gems.
Delving into a diverse array of subjects such Taiwanese aboriginal culture, Scandinavian music festival, New York’s underground art scene, the controversy surrounding Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and skateboarding subculture among others, the festival reflects a sensibility that is closer to humanity than other film festivals in Taiwan have ever been.
The term “urban nomad” was derived from British Architect Neil Leash’s cultural theory, about how personal identity in modern world is no longer defined within geographical boundaries. People travel the world and meet others who share the same interests, preferences, and values with them, and identities are thus formed by engaging in particular social circles than being a citizen of a certain country.
The festival’s co-organizer David Frazier is probably the embodiment of what an “urban nomad” is. A Taiwan-based freelance journalist, he has lived in Taipei for more than 15 years, long enough to meet most of the people in town. He sort of just fell in love with the place, has learned to speak fluent Mandarin and found a bunch of great friends.
For ten years, David and his team members have been funding the festival on their own, until they have gradually obtained sponsorships. “People have been telling us that we’re doing great things here, and that’s what keeps us going. We’ve also learned and grown a lot,” David said. They also consider social responsibility as a key component to their existence. They’ve received hundreds of messages from young people after screenings, telling them that the skateboarding movies featured in the event have injected meaning into their lives.
As film festivals have the power to gather people together, they also help foster harmony amidst diverse perspectives and provide people with different angles to view their life experiences. Urban Nomad Film Fest also hopes to bring in more Taiwanese films in the future, to become a platform for conversation and new talents.
Would David Frazier want to work in a corporate environment? He answers this in a crisp, calm manner. ”If you don’t have to work for anyone, why would you want to?”
Photos courtesy of the Urban Nomad Film Festival