In the past week, one film has taken Taiwan’s film aficionado circle by storm, and it’s not an arthouse film or a film festival circuit favorite.
Directed by Chen Ying-hsiung, Story in Taipei (台北物語) – not to be confused with the Edward Yang film with a similar name – tells the story of how one car accident affects the lives of eight people and exposes their immoral behaviors. The melodrama opened on May 19th on three screens across Taiwan with a single show a day at each cinema. However, word of the film’s atrocious quality went viral among film buffs on social media.
Blog posts have been making fun of the film’s lackluster filmmaking – including a medical report that looks hand drawn by a child, odd sound effects, inserts of random objects – and hilariously illogical dialogue (“My story is so amazing that I want to kill myself!”). There are reports of audiences breaking into spontaneous applause and boisterous laughter throughout the film, culminating in the loudest cheers seen on this side of Cannes by the time the credits roll.
“Even the technical mistakes are amazing. There’s practically one in every scene,” said one audience member on a television news report.
“I think it’s a gift from God,” said another audience member.
Despite only one to two shows a day, Story in Taipei has already made over NT$820,000 (US$27,000) in 12 days. The single cinema still showing the film had to move the film from their 100-seat auditorium to a 250-seat auditorium due to high demand. A fan page – not made by the filmmakers – already has over 1,800 fans.
The multiplex screening the film has confirmed to local media that it will continue to screen the film this weekend. The Kaohsuing Film Archive, meanwhile, has started a petition on Facebook asking local audiences if they should ask the producers to bring the film back to the city.
The term “so bad that it’s good” is a bit of a cliche, but it seems like Taipei audiences have finally found a cult hit to call their own.