Private Project

Man and Trees-Tallow tree

The (Chinese) tallow tree is a tree species that was used by our ancestors in China thousands of years ago. The entire tree can be utilized for different purposes, from the leaves to the roots of the tree. Cloth dyed from its leaves is firm and beautiful, and makes up the majority of the color of our ancestors’s clothing. Oil can be extracted from the tallow seeds and are used as an ingredient for making soap and candles. The texture of tallow tree wood is delicate and unique, making it the only suitable material for the quilt-making instrument - the Lundou. The yoke made by tallow wood is full of the compassionate spirit of our ancestors, because the flexibility would allow the cows to feel less pain when plowing the ground. Because they relied heavily on the tallow tree, so when they left their original homes, they planted its seeds in their new habitat, and thus the tallow tree begin to spread with the migration our ancestors. Whenever the immigrants felt homesick, they would use the tallow tree to make tools and dye their clothes, which healed their homesickness to a certain degree. In this aspect, the tallow tree is a tree species enriched with the emotions of us human beings.

  • Chen, chiao-wei
  • Hsu, kuo- yang
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Television
  • Runtime:
    48 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 14, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital HD
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Chen, chiao-wei

Chen Graduated from the Department of Radio and Television of the National Chengchi University, and her thesis film " Our Beautiful Time" won Best Director in the 30th "Student Individual Performance Category” of the Golden Harvest Awards. Chen has been involved in the production of " Mother Lessons" showcased on the PTS Life Story exhibition, serving as director, screenwriter and editor. The show was nominated for the 2015 Golden Bell Award for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor.

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Director Statement

In the Hakka settlements in Taiwan, like the ones in Guanyin or Xinwu of Taoyuan, we can easily spot tallow trees around the settlement or in the open fields, because their ancestors relied heavily on the tree. Before the oil industry products became mainstream, the tallow tree was an important economic crop, a medicinal plant and an important material for making farm tools. Nowadays, most people are unfamiliar with the tallow tree, while some even panic when seeing one around because it is marked as a poisonous plant in botanical books. In this documentary, we begin the story with an insect, the Pyrops watanabei, which lives on the tallow tree, and the lives of beekeepers, who rely on the tallow tree. We truly hope that people will be able to re-familiarize themselves with a tree species that was once played an indispensable part in our ancestors’ lives.