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Tribute to Rescuers at Tainan Charity Premiere of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

 

A charity premiere of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, a war drama directed by Ang Lee, was screened in Tainan on November 4. Lee, who spent a big part of his childhood in Tainan, attended the premiere with Tainan Mayor William Lai to pay tribute to the firefighters, soldiers, policemen and others who joined in the rescue work after Tainan was hit by a strong earthquake on February 6 this year. The rescuers were invited to the premiere as special guests.    
 
Addressing the premiere audience, Mayor Lai expressed his support for Lee’s latest film and his deep respect for the heroic efforts of the rescue workers. He praised the Oscar-winning director as an “outstanding son of Tainan,” and thanked him for bringing his new film to share with the people in his old hometown. By specially arranging this charity premiere in Tainan, Lee had shown how much the city’s people were in his thoughts, said Lai, and “I hope the people of Tainan will greatly support this movie.”

The mayor then told that, when the February 6 earthquake struck, Lee was filming in America. The director was deeply concerned for everyone in Tainan, and closely followed news of the ensuing rescue work. “That is why he dedicated Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, a film depicting heroes, to our rescue workers, including firefighters, soldiers, and policemen.” 

Lai also thanked Lee for his care for Taiwan’s film industry. Lee, who met with Premier Lin Chuan on October 2 during a previous visit to promote Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, told Lin that Taiwan has the capacity and need to develop its own film industry. Lin welcomed Lee’s advice and instructed the Ministry of Culture to follow up Lee’s suggestion. 

Lee has visited several potential locations in Taiwan where an international film studio might be established, including Tainan’s Shalun Farm, a large expanse of farmland owned by Tainan Sugar Corporation that is situated near the Tainan High Speed Rail Station. “Lee was impressed by the site and regarded it as a suitable place for filmmaking. Tainan City Government has briefed Premier Lin on the farm’s condition. Lin also considered the farm a prime location for our film industry,” Lai explained.   

Tainan was one of only two cities in Taiwan that have hosted premieres of Lee’s new film. The other premiere was held in Taipei on November 2. Lee told the audience in Tainan about his excitement at showing his new work to the people in his hometown. “This movie not only tells a lively story but also tries new approaches of filmmaking. It is the story of a young soldier who grew up in unusual circumstances. In fact, this film also gives voice to my own story. I moved to Tainan at the age of 10 and grew up here. I stayed in this city until I went to college. Tainan has nurtured my worldview and the way I grew up. That I can bring a movie about growth made through new filmmaking techniques to my hometown and share it with you all meant a lot to me,” said the director.  

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk was shot at 120 frames per second, much faster than the 24 frames per second generally used in cinematography. A film shot and projected at this speed looks brighter and more lifelike, with movement across the screen appearing much smoother and more like real life. Lee also shot the film in 3D, with 4K rather than the standard 2K resolution – “the whole shebang”, in Lee’s words – to achieve tremendously sharp, crisp and realistic images on the screen. This shooting format, used for the first time in a feature film, pushes the boundaries of film-making and treats the film’s audiences to an intensely vivid viewing experience.
 
Two stars of the film, British actor Joe Alwyn and Taiwanese-American actor Mason Lee, who is Ang Lee’s son, also attended the charity premiere in Tainan.