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The Crying Bamboo Forest tells the story of Fa’aye, an elder in the Atayal tribe in Taiwan. Seeing his traditional culture being eroded in favour of a more modern society, Fa’aye longs for the days when he would traverse the majestic bamboo forests with his father. The forest have since been privatized by the state, making it hard for Fa’aye to wander them as carefree as he once could. Fa’aye does not let this stop him, however, and takes his young grandson Isaw on a journey to get back in touch with his roots and the spirits that roam among the bamboo shoots.

The Crying Bamboo Forest is a sweet first feature from Taiwanese director Umin Boya. A good half of the film focuses on Fa’aye and Isaw’s journey through the forest. At times majestic and terrifying, the viewer can easily appreciate why Fa’aye would be drawn back to these vast surroundings.

Unfortunately, the film does not feature much dialogue or exposition and so it is unclear for about half its running time just exactly what is happening. Even later, when the first half of the film becomes clearer, the film still introduces us to a number of elements that muddle its intentions and narrative. This includes an unnamed character who is seemingly completely unrelated to the rest of the story and its characters.

The Crying Bamboo Forest may not be the most easy film to follow but it does feature a great leading performance and beautiful shots of Taiwan’s bamboo forests.

Is The Crying Bamboo Forest essential ImagineNATIVE viewing?

If there’s something else you really want to see and it’s between that and this film, I say skipĀ The Crying Bamboo Forest. If you’re looking for a film that you’re likely never be able to find anywhere again, then give it a go. Its short running time of 78 minutes may be a plus for some as well.

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