More than 60 years have passed since the 228 Massacre, resulting in the loss of 30,000 Taiwanese lives and the voice of their country. But on the back of a Taiwanese-American’s film, the nation of Taiwan is poised to speak again.
LOS ANGELES — For Will Tiao, a producer, co-writer and actor of political thriller Formosa Betrayed, the events due to commence nationwide on Friday, February 26th, are five years in the making. But for many Taiwan citizens, it’s been close to a lifetime.
On February 28, 1947 – 2/28 – Taiwan’s government was suppressed by the Kuomintang [KMT], which translates as the Chinese Nationalist Party. Referred to as the 228 Massacre, over 30,000 Taiwanese citizens lost their lives, while thousands more either vanished or were imprisoned. Today, despite their pleas for peace, Taiwan still faces an array of missiles pointed directly at them by the People’s Republic of China.
But Tiao, whose parents were blacklisted and forced to flee Taiwan by the Chinese Nationalist Party, felt that there was something he could do to help his homeland. And that “something” became Formosa Betrayed.
Based on actual events, Formosa Betrayed is a film that follows an American detective [James Van Der Beek] who’s assigned to investigate the murder of a Taiwanese-American professor. Taking its cue from the stories of injustice and oppression recounted by Tiao’s parents, the film aims to open the eyes of the entire world.
However, Formosa Betrayed isn’t solely based on the stories of Tiao’s parents. The film also drew inspiration from Tiao’s work in politics, where he lobbied for Taiwan’s entrance into the UN as part of the Formosa Association for Public Affairs, penning a provision that granted the U.S. permanent trade relations with China.
Leaving politics to focus on filmmaking, Tiao began spearheading this project by spreading the word worldwide. From Taiwan to San Jose, California, he flew to inform potential investors of his vision, by speaking of his parents’ stories and his own political exasperations, as well as revealing that the point of his independent feature film was to serve the cause at hand on a silver platter to the deaf ears of the world abreast.
Hearing that message loud and clear, legions of blacklisted survivors, akin to his parents and wanting their story told, supported Tiao’s efforts financially from the get go.
“We never had a chance to speak out,” Hillsborough [San Francisco area] resident Gina Mao told the San Jose Mercury News. “We never had a chance to let people know what the real history of Taiwan was.”
Looking to give his project an identifiable look and feel, Tiao began working with Dreamentia Creative Laboratories, a Los Angeles-based agency that specializes in advertising, marketing and branding. A partnership that grew throughout the project, Tiao and Dreamentia worked together to create Formosa Betrayed’s Primer, website, key art, and an assortment of promotional materials.
With the support of investors, along with a great script and a talented cast and crew in place – headlined by James Van Der Beek, Wendy Crewson, John Heard, Tzi Ma, Chelcie Ross, and director Adam Kane – the production of Formosa Betrayed set its sails for Bangkok, Thailand and Chicago, Illinois to tackle principal photography.
Once Formosa Betrayed had been shot and edited, it was sign, sealed and delivered to a plethora of festivals throughout North and South America; as it hoped to win a distribution deal, to help Tiao with his number one goal of taking this issue worldwide.
Succeeding in the festival circuit, Formosa Betrayed was awarded Best Feature Film and Best Actor at the San Diego Film Festival, along with the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. Better yet, Formosa Betrayed also inked a worldwide distribution deal with Screen Media Films, one of the leading distributors of independent feature films.
Which brings us to February 26th, the world premier of Formosa Betrayed. Starting Friday, the film will premier in New York; New Jersey; Boston; Los Angeles; Orange County, California; Berkeley, California; and Cupertino, California. Los Angeles and Cupertino viewings will also be in the company of Mandarin Chinese subtitles.
With tickets already on sale, Formosa Betrayed will finally give United States citizens the opportunity to understand the decades of hardship endured by the Taiwanese. And while the collective memory of thousands has fueled the passion for change, it’s now our chance to help Taiwan restore order.
Something that Will Tiao and the people of Taiwan have wanted to orchestrate for a long, long time.