Private Project

The Catch

Each year, between November and the following February, a group of Indigenous Taiwanese migrant workers sets up camp near Lanyang River in Yilan County, on the northeastern coast of Taiwan. They travel from afar to this spot in hopes of catching that season’s eel fry. For those four months, these camp sights are their homes.

Dan, a light-hearted sixty-one-year-old, is a member of the Amis tribe. Dan’s been coming to Lanyang River to catch eel fry for the past seven years. But this year it’s different because his girlfriend forty-four-year-old Wusai will accompany him. With Wusai by Dan’s side, the makeshift campsite feels a little more like home.

But no amount of warmth from within the campsite can shield them from the harsh ocean winds, the volatile squatter environment, harassment from local gangs, or a slew of unpredictability that arises from living on unfriendly grounds.

The end of February means the end of the fry catch season. Dan returns home to Taitung County with very little yield. But Dan is a survivor, and after working at odd jobs in Taitung, Dan picks up his weary body and heavy heart, returns to Yilan for another season in the treacherous waters, in hopes of getting the catch.

  • Che-chia HSU
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    54 minutes 45 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Chinese, Chinese - Min Nan
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 2022 Taiwan International Documentary Festival
    World Premiere
    Taiwan Competition - Finalist
  • 2022 New York Festivals
    New York
    United States
    International Premiere
    D04 Community Portraits - Finalist
  • 2023 Cambodia International Film Festival
    Phnom Penh
    May 31, 2023
    Asian Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Che-chia HSU

HSU Che-Chia has always been fascinated by the human race. Ever since he was little, he enjoyed observing people’s expressions and studying their actions. During college, HSU took a documentary production course, which sparked his interest in documentary filmmaking. Watching classic documentaries also solidified HSU’s desire to understand human interactions, and helped him to explore the complexities of our emotions and our lives.

HSU prefers character-driven documentaries, whether it’s about a wife dealing with the loss of a husband, a renowned artist coming to terms with his declining health, or a selfless doctor who suffers a stroke; HSU hopes that through his lens, these ordinary people and their extraordinary lives can propel viewers to discover compassion, understanding, and curiosity for the multifaceted world around us.

On the Road | 2014 | 48mins | documentary
director | nominated for the 37the Golden Harvest Award for Best Doc

The Son of Nature, Photographer “SI-CHI KO” | 2012 | 35mins | documentary
director/producer | commissioned and presented at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts

Grassroots Bodhi | 2007-2011 | 30mins x 39 episodes | documentary
director/cinematographer | executive produced by Da Ai TV

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Director Statement

In November 2012 I came across a newspaper article about a group of migrant fishermen who set up temporary campsites not too far away from where I live. Out of curiosity towards the migrants’ way of life, I headed over to the campsite in order to have a closer look.

What I witnessed and discovered was the amazing strength and resilience of these fishermen, while living on the margins of society, their attempts to carve out a way of life, to catch a sliver of opportunity, even if fortune often slips through their hands like the proverbial eel.

Their stories are often overlooked. I hope to shed light on their conditions and plight, in hopes of revealing and restoring our faith in humanity and in our ability to survive.