Love Boat: Taiwan - World Premiere
Bay Area-based experimental video artist/filmmaker and Asian American Studies professor Valerie Soe returns with a provocative and illuminating documentary feature about the “Taiwan Love Boat”- one of the world’s longest running summer programs sponsored by the Taiwanese government to educate overseas Taiwanese and various Chinese diasporas across the globe – about the cultural greatness of the island nation. No actual boat is involved.
Known officially as the Expatriate Formosa Youth Study Tour to Taiwan, the Overseas Chinese Youth Language Training and Study Tour to the Republic of China, and the Expatriate Youth Taiwan Study Tour, among others, the much more marketable nickname helped to attract a diverse breadth of youthful participants, who “in the days before Tinder” to quote Angry Asian Man, bought the promise of romance and unsupervised shenanigans abroad.
Filmed over more three years and funded by a Fulbright Fellowship, Soe, a Love Boat alumna, retraces her initial engagement with her cultural heritage here and her “return” to Asia as an American-born and raised citizen. Contemplating how overseas Chinese experience this homecoming as a spectrum of comfort and culture shock, she contrasts this with information presented by those who ran the proverbial “ship.” Towing the official line of cultural diplomacy and education, a cadre of Taiwanese government officials and representatives through its more than half century existence give testimonials to the program’s history and impact while Love Boat alumni including comedian/artist Kristina Wong and politician Judy Chu gleefully account the real skinny.