Let us introduce you to the Canadian director Yen-Chao Lin, who is participating in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Taiwan in 1983, she lives and works in Montreal, Canada. Through intuitive play and experimentation, her visual artworks and films often explore different forms of divination arts and traditional tales, particularly via the angle of folk religion and oral history.

© Yen-Chao Lin

Yen-Chao Lin travelled along the east coast of Taiwan – an area characterized by its wild nature, colonization and population exodus. The Amis is the largest of many ethnic minorities in Taiwan officially recognised as indigenous peoples. In search of different spiritual practices belonging to the indigenous people of Makuta’ay, Yen-Chao Lin places the memories of the old Amis spirit keepers on an equal footing with the practices of Daoist rituals and Presbyterian burials, allowing personal prayers to resound and collective resistance to emerge. The Spirit Keepers of Makuta’ay was shot on Super 8 film and developed by the director by hand. The effects created during the development process add an additional layer of spiritual interpretation. A miniature, an essay, an impressionistic painting.

The Spirit Keepers of Makuta'ay_©Yen-Chao Lin_Still5
© The Spirit Keepers of Makuta’ay by Yen-Chao Lin

What is your ambition in the film?

I hope to bring more awareness to Indigenous issues and the consequences of colonization in Taiwan and elsewhere. Here in Canada, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has triggered a lot of decolonizing movements in the arts and in the broader society. I hope people in a privileged position can use their privilege to enact change because every little thing one does contributes to the collective change.​

What do you like about the short form?

I come from a DIY background and I’m a perfectionist. I like to be able to do things myself, or to work very closely with my collaborators.

What are your future plans?

As a Canadian artist, I live in the art eco system: production – dissemination – seek funding for new projects.

24 films from 17 countries will be competing for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

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