Mar 17, 2018
The Last Insurrection (末代叛亂犯)
Director: Jian Hua LIAO, born in Chiayi, Taiwan.
2015 - Taiwan
This first feature-length documentary by Liao was shortlisted in 2016 in the Taiwanese Competition of the Taiwan International Documentary Festival and at the Asian Competition of DMZ International Documentary Film Festival.
Liao’s new documentary, “The Price of Democracy”, is scheduled for release in 2018.
The lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987 led to many democratic reforms. However as this film shows, martial law did not actually disappear in 1987.
Through in-depth interviews and research, Last Insurrection re-examines the Taiwan Independence Association 獨立臺灣會 (TIA) Incident in 1991. Founded in Tokyo in 1967, the TIA advocates Taiwanese self-governance and independence. It is also the only leftist pro-indepencence organization.
In May 1991, four young people supposedly affiliated with TIA were randomly arrested by the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau, a highly secretive and non-democratic institution (MJIB; Chinese: 法務部調查局; pinyin: Fǎwùbù Diàochájú) (MJIB). This incident evoked memories of the “White Terror” and triggered large demonstrations across the country.
The MJIB, founded in 1927, was responsible for intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence. It operated anonymously and was responsible for countering ‘internal disorder’ of any kind. Its operations were only made public through an Executive Yuan decree of 1998, which the MJIB seems to ignore.
The MJIB also stored files related to the White Terror until 2016, when the premier ordered that they be handed over to the National Archives Administration. The National Archives had already, before 2009, asked the Bureau for the files, but MJIB ignored the request.
The Bureau is related to the Taiwan Garrison Command. The main military state security agency during the Martial Law era of 1949 to 1992, the Taiwan Garrison Command was greatly feared by the public. After 1992, the MJIB took over former Garrison buildings, where White Terror files were stored.
The film documents mass protests that only became possible after martial law was lifted. However, it also reveals unchanged police tactics and violence. The documentary makes the point that innocent civilians can still find themselves in the middle of a disturbing upheaval – and that Taiwanese independence remains an impossible goal. It documents student activism that is hopefully the basis for an ever more democratic Taiwan.
The Last Insurrection [ Taiwan International Documentary Festival ]
Premier orders handover of White Terror files [ Taiwan News; 2016 March 22 ]
White Terror documents cause uproar [ Taipei Times; 2009 March 19 ]
White Terror Documents and Human Body Parts Found Abandoned [Michael Turton Blog; 2009 March 20 ]
5 Documentaries you cannot miss at the Taipei Film Festival 2016 [ Asian Film Festivals ]
Text source and photocredit: Vienna Center for Taiwan Studies