Taiwanese Hokkien-Language cinema, also called Taiwanese cinema from the literal translation of Taiyupian, refers to Hoklo-speaking films produced in Taiwan between 1955 and 1981. The term is used to differentiate these Taiwanese films from the Mandarin-speaking cinema in Taiwan, Amoy-dialect cinema in Hong Kong, and Hokkien cinema in other South-eastern Asian countries.
There were films produced in Taiwan in the Japanese Period (1895-1945) but they were in Japanese. Taiwanese audiences watched films imported from Japan, Shanghai and the USA, all with the help of on-site interpreters. After the 50s, Amoy-dialect films of Hong Kong were introduced to the audiences in Taiwan due to its similarity to the Taiwanese Hokkien. Like many films in East Asian countries, the first Taiwanese Hokkien-Language film, made in 1955, was an adaptation of a traditional opera, performed by an opera group originally from the Amoy region of Hokkien (now spelled ‘Xiamen’ and ‘Fujian’, following the Mandarin pronunciation) in Mainland China.
Thanks to the huge success of that film, numerous film studios were soon established and produced more than 100 films a year during the prosperous period between 1965 and 1969. Relying mostly on private investment, the studios thrived and exported large number of titles oversees.
Taiwanese Hokkien-Language cinema includes a wide range of genres: detective, thriller, opera, musicals, romance, comedy, fantasy, wuxia, and literary adaptations. Moreover, many Taiwanese Hokkien-Language films, like these included in the Festival programme, reveal strong Japanese influence. However, as Hokkien was considered an uneducated dialect under the National Language Movement (guoyuyundong) and due to the problematic management of production quality that made the industry less competitive than the Mandarin-speaking cinema from Hong Kong, the Taiwanese Hokkien-Language cinema eventually disappeared from the market. The last film, interestingly also an adaptation from a traditional opera, was made in 1981.