Although Chinese films did not make the final list of this year's Academy Awards nominees, one Taiwan film has been a hit with major audiences. Island Etude, directed by Chen Huai-en, and featuring a young man's cycling trip around Taiwan, went up for an Oscar Award in place of Ang Lee's Lust, Caution.
“If there is something you want to do, do it now or you will never get the chance,” Don Ming-siang, 29, said at the start of the film.
Chen divided the script into 12 parts, which showed the cyclist circling Taiwan from Kaohsiung up the island’s east coast, through Taipei in the north, and back down the west coast. In the movie, the trip took seven days: in reality, filming took place over six months when weather and scheduling allowed.
Through Dong’s experiences, the director discussed contemporary socio-political issues and filled the screen with island beauty.
Taimali, the town of the rising sun and day lily
Dong’s first destination was Taimali, a small town in Taitung. Dong learned a lesson in persistence from “Uncle Wang,” an old man who has spent his life making wood sculpture.
During the Japanese occupation, invading soldiers planted medicinal herbs in the Jhihben and Taimali mountain areas of Taitung to develop “Medicine Mountain.” Statistics show 2,000 varieties of medicinal herbs can be found in the Taitung area, making it the “Homeland of Taiwan Medicinal Herb".
Taimali is situated on the coastline of southeastern Taitung and is renowned for the “town of the ring sun.” Its Jinzhenshan, Day Lily Mountain, is one of Taiwan’s three best locations for viewing the “sea of day lilies.” The harvest season is August through late October. The best time to enjoy the brilliant colors of the massive lily blossum is, of course, when the picking starts.