Untold Herstory


Untold Herstory

流麻溝十五號 (Liu Ma Gou Shi Wu Hao)

Taiwan, 2022, 112’, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Atayal, Japanese
Directed by: Zero Chou 
Screenplay: Zero Chou, Wu Min-hsuan
Photography (color): Hoho Liu
Editing: Zero Chou, Chen Xiao-jing
Production Design: Chou Chin-hsien
Music: Lu Lu-ming
Producers: Pasuya Yao, Kent Chang
Cast: Yu Hsing-hui (Yu Pei-jen), Lien Yu-han (Chen Ping), Herb Hsu (Yan Shui-hsia), Hsu Tau (Lin Yao-hui), Gaku Sou (Chuang Cheng-hsiung), Mario Pu (Fang Chi-chuan), Angel Lee (Officer Lo)

Date of First Release in Territory: October 28th, 2022 


Seeing the rapid development of democracy in Taiwan, it’s easy to forget it has only achieved democracy for 30-odd years. Its decades-long martial law period – lasting from 1949 until 1987 – is still fresh in the memory of several generations. During the White Terror period, the Kuomintang-ruled government imposed authoritarian measures, including suppressing free speech and persecuting anyone critical of the government. Many of those “thought prisoners” were sent to Green Island, an island 33 kilometers off the eastern coast that had been turned into a penal colony. 
Based on the non-fiction book by Ronald Tsao and oral accounts, Zero Chou’s Untold Herstory is the first production of Thuànn Taiwan Film Corporation, founded by former journalist and lawmaker Pasuya Yao. Set in the early 1950s, when the Korean War was in full swing, the film tells the story of the often-forgotten female prisoners who were sent to Green Island’s so-called “reform centre”, where they were identified only by their prisoner numbers while they performed hard labour and underwent intense “re-education” classes. 
Though based on real accounts, the film focuses on three fictional protagonists: Hsing-hui (Yu Pei-jen) is an innocent young woman who was merely arrested for drawing a poster for protesting students, Chen Ping (Lien Yu-han) is an attractive dancer whose good looks attract the attention of a top camp commander, and older nurse Yen-sang (Herb Hsu) acts as the de facto big sister among the female prisoners while she defiantly takes on the authorities by secretly exchanging information with male prisoners. 
While Chou and co-writer Wu Min-hsuan spend a lot of time showing the acts of inhumanity on the island – including the infamous bunkers that drove many prisoners to madness – the film’s emphasis is the humanity and camaraderie among the prisoners. There are scenes of bonding between the women, Chen Ping’s reunion with a loved one, a burgeoning romance between Hsing-hui and a male prisoner, and a scene of the women banding together to save one of their own. The prisoners’ final act of rebellion before their execution, taken from real historical photographs, will likely move many to tears. Though the prisoners’ experiences are harrowing, Chou has fortunately made something that is also deeply moving and respectful to the prisoners. 
Also impressive is the effort that Chou and her team made to portray life in the camp. The film was shot on sets built inside and around Green Island White Terror Memorial Park, established on sites where dissidents were held. Though it’s impossible to express with English subtitles, both the guards and the prisoners speak in various accents instead of standard Mandarin, accurately reflecting the varied backgrounds of those on the island; many of the local Taiwan prisoners were not yet fluent in Mandarin at the time, instead speaking in Taiwanese, Atayal and Japanese (a remnant of the colonial period). Meanwhile, Kuomintang guards spoke heavily accented Mandarin from different local dialects (though this Cantonese speaker found the Cantonese in the film a bit flawed). Considering that the film’s subject matter was still too raw to be discussed openly until recent decades, for a mainstream film to tackle this ugly chapter of Taiwan’s history in such a realistic and direct manner makes Untold Herstory a monumental achievement that deserves to be seen. 

Zero Chou

After graduating from university, Zero Chou worked as a journalist before going into indie filmmaking. After years of documentary film, Chou made her transition to feature-length dramatic narrative filmmaking in 2004 with Splendid Float, which went on to win three Golden Horse Awards. Her Teddy Award winner Spider Lilies (2007) created a splash for featuring pop stars Rainie Yang and Isabella Leong in a lesbian love story. In addition to theatrical films, Chou has also written and directed many TV films and TV series. 


2004 – Splendid Float 
2007 – Spider Lilies
2008 – Drifting Flowers
2012 – Ripples of Desire
2020 – Wrath of Desire
2022 – Untold Herstory
Kevin Ma
Film director: Zero CHOU
Year: 2022
Running time: 112'
Country: Taiwan
26/04 - 09:00 AM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
26-04-2023 09:00 26-04-2023 10:52Europe/Rome Untold Herstory Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine cec@cecudine.org