September 27: The Extra’s Journey Panel Discussion: Making Films in the Shadow of China

September 27: The Extra’s Journey Panel Discussion: Making Films in the Shadow of China

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 (RSVP here)

Film Screening
– (Online): September 26, 6:30 PM (ET) – September 27, 6:30 PM (ET)
(In-Person): 5:00 PM (ET) – 6:30 PM (ET)

Panel Discussion (In-Person and Webcast): 6:30 PM (ET) – 7:30 PM (ET)

Event Description:

The Global Taiwan Institute (GTI) is pleased to invite you to a public seminar titled “Making Films in the Shadow of China,” which will consist of a film screening of The Extra’s Journey, followed by a panel discussion.

Hollywood has long held a pivotal role when it comes to disseminating the United States’ culture abroad and the recent successes of the South Korean productions Parasite and Squid Game have demonstrated that subtitles are no longer a barrier to moviegoers. In recent years, Taipei has also been taking steps to follow a similar strategy. Specifically, the establishment of the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA, 文化內容策進院) has allowed the development of a more coordinated strategy when it comes to nurturing Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries, and cooperation between Netflix and TAICCA has led to more Taiwanese productions making it onto the world stage. 

However, as Taiwan builds up its entertainment industry, it still faces significant barriers. Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries are dominated by small firms with relatively limited resources, while the majority of Taiwan’s cinema box office continues to be taken up by American films. Domestically, job opportunities are limited and audiences are small. Compounding this problem is the fact that a far larger industry with more opportunities sits just across the Taiwan Strait. For talents in the Taiwanese entertainment industry faced with a choice between following their dreams and working in China’s highly censored creative environment, the decision is more difficult than ever.

This event will discuss the current state of Taiwan’s entertainment industry, incorporating the perspective of creators working in Taiwan. In doing so, it will provide insights into the effect that China has on Taiwan’s creative economy and how Taiwan’s creative economy can address both domestic and international challenges.

Panelists will include: Jerome Wang (Producer), Wu Hsin-yu (Director), and Shelley Rigger (Davidson College, GTI). The event will be moderated by GTI Research Associate Adrienne Wu.

The in-person event will be held at the GTI office located at 1836 Jefferson Place NW in Washington DC (approximately one block from the Dupont Circle Metro). Doors will open at 4:30 PM ET, and film screening will begin at 5:00 PM ET. Following the screening, the livestreamed panel discussion will begin at 6:30 PM ET. If you plan on attending in-person, please RSVP by September 25, as seating is limited. Refreshments and snacks will be provided. Please direct questions or concerns to Program Manager Marshall Reid at mreid@globaltaiwan.org.

**Media: Please contact Marshall Reid at mreid@globaltaiwan.org if you would like to bring additional crew members or equipment, so that we can be sure to accommodate you.

If you are unable to attend in person, the film will also be accessible for free via Vimeo On Demand, a video sharing and streaming platform, from 6:30 PM on Tuesday, September 26, 2023 to 6:30 PM on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. Once the viewing window begins, the film will be available to watch on the this page. For any questions pertaining to online viewing, please contact us at gtifilm@globaltaiwan.org.

The Extra’s Journey (臨演人生)

Would you still be willing to pursue a dream no one believes you can achieve? As a lover of Hong Kong Kung Fu films, Ke-Han’s biggest dream is to work with his idol, the martial art actor Donnie Yen. Queenie is a girl who has left her hometown to work in the capital city of Taipei. Although she still works part-time in a beauty clinic while working as an extra, she hopes to become a full-time actress one day. Despite his confidence in his own abilities, 42-year-old Sheng-Long is still waiting for an agent to discover him and has to work as an Uber driver.

This documentary records Taiwanese extras of different genders, generations and backgrounds. Through their journeys, which Director Wu spent six years chronicling in both a humorous and touching style, we witness the struggles and challenges these extra actors face—including difficulties faced by women in the industry, a lack of opportunities, and the draw of China’s larger entertainment industry.

The Speakers:

Jerome Wang is a producer at La Su-shi Films and a regional representative at the Mekong Cultural Hub. He has been a theatermaker and performer for decades, cooperating with Critical Point Theater Phenomenon, Guling Street Theatre and Théâtre de Ajmer and touring in Taiwan, France and China. After years of working in theater, he started making documentaries and short films in 2015. In addition to The Extra’s Journey, Jerome collaborated with Director Wu on her film A Dreamer’s Journey, which he also produced and premiered on Japan NHK World channel. Wang currently works as an independent documentary filmmaker, focusing on social issues.

Filmography: The Extra’s Journey (2022), Film Dreams About Her Childhood (2021), A Dreamer’s Journey (2019), The Extra’s Journey (short, 2017), Betrayal (short, 2015)

Wu Hsin-yu is a Taiwanese independent filmmaker. She graduated from the Documentary & Film Archiving School at Tainan National University of the Arts. Following work as a director/program writer for TV, she is now an independent documentary filmmaker. She is familiar with Taiwanese indigenous issues and cares about how social changes affect the younger generation. Wu’s co-directed documentary film The Wall, a film about indigenous youths who were former inmates, won Best Feature Documentary in the 2015 Golden Harvest Awards. Her short film, A Dreamer’s Journey, premiered on NHK World channel.

Filmography: Bitters Weed (short, 2023), The Extra’s Journey (2022) A Dreamer’s Journey (2019), The Extra’s Journey (short, 2017), The Wall (co-director, 2015), The Women’s Nest (2011), Away from Namasia (2010)

Shelley Rigger is the vice president for academic affairs, dean of faculty, and Brown Professor of East Asian Politics at Davidson College and a member of GTI’s Advisory Board. She has a PhD in Government from Harvard University and a BA in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. She has been a visiting researcher at National Chengchi University in Taiwan (2005) and a visiting professor at Fudan University (2006) and Shanghai Jiaotong University (2013 & 2015). She is a non-resident fellow of the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University and a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). She is also a director of The Taiwan Fund, a closed-end investment fund specializing in Taiwan-listed companies.

Rigger is the author of two books on Taiwan’s domestic politics, Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy (Routledge 1999) and From Opposition to Power: Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (Lynne Rienner Publishers 2001). In 2011 she published Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse, a book for general readers. Her most recent book, The Tiger Leading the Dragon: How Taiwan Propelled China’s Economic Rise (2021) explains how Taiwanese businesses made it possible for the PRC–a country without private property or business as recently as 1978–to become the “factory to the world.” She has published articles on Taiwan’s domestic politics, the national identity issue in Taiwan-China relations and related topics. Her monograph “Taiwan’s Rising Rationalism: Generations, Politics and ‘Taiwan Nationalism’” was published by the East West Center in Washington in November 2006. In 2019-20 she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar based in Taipei, where she worked on a study of Taiwan’s contributions to the PRC’s economic take-off, and a study of Taiwanese youth.


Adrienne Chih-fang Wu is a research associate at the Global Taiwan Institute and the host and producer of Taiwan Salon, GTI’s cultural policy and soft power podcast. With an interest in exploring the intersection of culture and policy, her research focuses on how Taiwan can strengthen international connections through nation branding, cultural diplomacy and a strong civil society. She is also a member of the UC Berkeley US-Taiwan Next Generation Working Group, where she is conducting a research project on the barriers to importing Taiwanese cultural products. Before joining GTI, she graduated from Ritsumeikan University and Kyunghee University with a dual master’s degree in international relations. She spent seven years living in Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan—including three years of teaching English in Japan and Taiwan and a year of study at Waseda University while pursuing her BA in honors East Asian studies from McGill University. She also worked at the Presidential Precinct to help facilitate the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program for young African leaders. As a Taiwanese-American, the mission of GTI is close to her heart, and she is excited to be part of an organization committed to better public understanding of Taiwan worldwide.

We are grateful to the Taiwan Academy, Ministry of Culture, Taiwan for providing resources to the GTI cultural programs series.