After the death of their patriarch, a multigenerational Indigenous Taiwanese family must come together to retain their connection to their ancient culture against encroaching challenges in this moving award-winner.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Grandpa Hayung (Chen De-qing), the patriarch of an Indigenous Taiwanese Atayal family living in the highlands, has followed the tradition of gaga—a traditional values system—all his life, but the younger generations have little interest in keeping it alive. The family’s last piece of land is being targeted by the mayor, and when Grandpa suddenly dies, his eldest son Pasang (Wilang Lain) decides to run for mayor as a way to keep the land in the family. Between financial stress, an unwanted pregnancy and simmering family tensions, the three generations must learn the importance of their relationships and keeping their traditions alive as modern society continues to threaten their culture, heritage and way of life.
This charming, heart-warming family drama is an accomplished third feature from Laha Mebow, Taiwan’s first female indigenous director, the film is anchored by naturalistic and moving performances from its largely nonprofessional cast to tell a nuanced tale of Indigenous life in Taiwan. It was awarded Best Director and Best Supporting Actress at the prestigious Golden Horse Award in Taiwan, as well as Best Director at Singapore International Film Festival 2022 (Asian Feature Competition). — Vicci Ho
“GAGA continues to raise awareness for the plight of these defining aspects of Taiwan’s identity, and offers a fascinating window into a way of life that is in serious danger of disappearing completely.” — James Marsh, South China Morning Post
“The conflict between indigenous traditions and modern, mainstream society is a central theme in the movie, but the emotional, human drama that ensues as the family struggles to deal with their circumstances is what drives the plot. The cultural differences are obvious but not overstated or exoticized, it’s just part of this particular backdrop for a scenario that could happen in any Taiwanese village.” — Han Cheung, Taipei Times