Free Beats : The Musical Journey of CHEN Ming Chang

CHEN Ming Chang, exposed to Western music, from The Beatles to Bob Dylan, often taught himself to play and sing with a guitar when he was young. In the closed social milieu during the martial law in Taiwan, he felt elated immersed in music and freedom, which aroused his desire to become a musician. Later, when he met CHEN Da and was deeply moved by the mellifluous melody of his moon guitar, he decided to set out on a journey on the land of Taiwan to learn more about the music that has been passed on through generations. Traveling around Taiwan, CHEN learns traditional opera music from prestigious musicians and integrates it with artistic creation, composing abundant music and stories that belong to Taiwan…

We would like to invite you to enter CHEN Ming Chang’s heart and life, getting a peek at his mindscape through the soundtracks in international movies as well as the songs and music in the operas he creates. Meanwhile, we can also spot the evolution of the social milieu during and after the martial law and from autocracy to democracy, being immersed in the zeitgeist and the shared memories that bind us with the land of Taiwan.

  • Chih-Hsiang Lin
  • Fumiko OSAKA
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Music, Biography
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 49 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 28, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Mandarin Chinese
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Kaohsiung Film Festival
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Activator Co., Ltd
    Sales Agent
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - CHENG SHENG LIN

LIN Cheng Sheng is director and writer. Born in Luye, Taitung Rift Valley in 1959, he dropped out of school at the age of 16 to become an apprentice baker. At 26, he started making movies. He has made 8 feature films and several documentaries, and has won many awards, including Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival (The Betel Nut Beauty, 2001).

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Director Statement

"You don't need to drive home drunk, you can just take the elevator!" CHEN Ming Chang has been my upstairs neighbor from ten more years ago. He always takes the elevator to my flat to drink and chat. We talk about all kinds of topics, music, cinema, politics and what not. When we are half drunk, we talk nonsense too. My wife is amused watching us talking. One day she started to use a small camera to record our conversation.

I joked, “Take good care of your health, whoever dies first, all these footages will go to the living one. He has the right to edit and screen them in the funeral for everybody’s laugh. "

We kept drinking and talking for 2 or 3 years, and my wife kept filming us on and off. One day, I looked at CHEN Ming Chang, thinking that this was the musician who had composed music for DUST IN THE WIND, singing from the era when Taiwan was under Martial Law, to the time of democracy and freedom, and still going. I asked him, “Would you let me make a documentary about you?”

“OK, why not. You decide.” He said in his usual tone.

Thus I started to make this documentary: Free Beats: The Musical Journey of CHEN Ming Chang .

Come to think of it, the day when CHEN Ming Chang moved into the apartment I lived, it’s my destiny to make a documentary about his musical life.