Private Project

Island of Mountains : Believe it or not. This is Taiwan!!!

Program summary: This series presents a young mountain climber's life story and the mountains that have had a profound influence on him. In it, we see the therapeutic power of nature and the topic of adventure under life-threatening circumstances.
Episode summary:
Taiwan's mountain climber Yuan Chih Chang, who has attempted to climb K2, takes his mother on a return hike along the Holy Ridgeline—which is where Chang was originally introduced to mountain climbing. While traversing the Holy Ridgeline, the filming crew have discussions with Chang concerning such topics as the meaning of adventure, what his mother thinks of his climbing, and what mountain climbing has given her. During this journey, the hikers encounter the first major snowstorm of the season, which covers the entire area in a beautiful robe of ice and snow. But this snowfall proves to be a formidable test for the inexperienced filming crew. Could they complete their filming mission under these life-threatening conditions? In the end, the crew and Chang have to make a tough decision before they reached Mt. Buxiulan: Should they risk completing the Holy Ridgeline traverse, or should they retreat?

  • Howard Cheng
  • Wei Hsiung Chan
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  • Runtime:
    48 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 10, 2021
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Director Biography - Howard Cheng

Never failing to give viewers a new impression with his works' crisp musical rhythms, Director Howard Cheng has focused on documentary and program production. In 2017, Cheng teamed up with two other directors to jointly create the "Taipei In Motion" publicity film, which was very popular with viewers and gave the Universiade a fresh, new image. During the same year, Cheng plunged into the deep mountains in the center of Taiwan. Feeling the call of the heights, he relied on his distinctive vision to portray the island's majestic peaks. In late 2020, in a collaborative effort with entertained Bowie Tsang, he served on the invitation as director of "Let's Go Home," which launched a new wave among Taiwan's TV programs. He followed this with the 2021 "Island of Mountains: Believe it or not. This is Taiwan!!!," which provided a new outlook on Taiwan's high mountains.

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Director Statement

Taiwan has long been a hotbed of OEM industry, and the chief guiding principle of successful OEM operation is to minimize risk. This style of doing business has long since become intertwined with our educational system, in spite of the fact that Taiwan stopped focusing on OEM production at an early date. Even today, we are still not in the habit of discussing risk taking, and the educational system still mostly tells us to "know our place and be content with our lot." And because of the time in the past when access to the sea and mountains was restricted, we have also been taught that the mountains and sea are dangerous. No one has ever instructed us in the right techniques to face the risks of the outdoors.
The main character in this film is a person who was raised outside Taiwan's formal educational system, and grew up in an environment that most parents would feel was "very risky." He walked the "Holy Ridgeline" from Mt. Xue to Mt. Dabajian at the age of 13, and climbed the highest peak in North America after graduating from junior high school. After climbing several 8,000-meter peaks, he challenged K2—the world's second highest peak—in 2019, but ultimately failed to reach the summit. I was curious as to what this son of Taiwan thought about adventure, and even more curious as to what his mother thought about her child braving such great dangers. That is why I decided to accompany them on a hike of the Holy Ridgeline, which was the high mountain route he had trained on at a young age.
During the hike, we happened to encounter the first major snowstorm of the year. Although Taiwan's mountains didn't pose any threat to him, he still had to look after his mother and make sure the film crew was safe. Although I had originally planned to examine this man's adventurous spirit, I ended up having my own personal adventure and facing the brink of losing control, on this journey.