“Didi’s Dreams”, the Taiwanese-Chinese comedy film written and directed by by Kevin Tsai and starring Dee Hsu, Lin Chi-ling, Jin Shijia, Li Zifeng is now on Amazon Video, Vimeo on Demand.
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With this one-of-a-kind fantasy comedy, talent from the most influential Chinese language TV show Kangsi Coming pay tribute to the golden age of Taiwan variety entertainment. Didi is an aspiring actress who keeps having the same dream about a spaceship noodle shop owner’s love affairs. After countless hardships, she finally reaches her career breakthrough, but her life takes an unexpected turn, and the truth about her dreams start to unveil.
A bit of backstory
The privatization of Taiwan TV industry in 1990s driven by government policy resulted in explosive growth in number of working TV stations. The island’s 23 million people who used to watch programs from only 3 stations now can access more than 100 channels at once for a low fee. The cut-throat competition forces studios to produce eye grabbing content within extremely tight budget. The imbalance between shortage of stars and oversupply of TV programs gives rise to a new occupation at the bottom of the industry-variety talent. They attend variety TV shows to discuss their life stories or participate in the sometimes grinding games for a very low compensation.
Among numerous TV shows, “Kangsi Coming” hosted by Kevin Tsai and Dee Hsu (Little S) is especially well received. The programs mix variety segments and in depth interviews. Throughout the 3104 episodes during its 12 years of broadcast, guests from all walks of Chinese society are invited. No matter who the interviewee of the day is, be it history-making politicians like Lien Chan, Ma Ying-jeou, significant writer and social commenter like Li Ao or international superstars such as Andy Lau or Stephen Chow, Tsai and Hsu have managed to penetrate their PR bubbles and bring their well-maintained images to the ground with razor-sharp questions and humorous interactions. Though the production crew has never stopped struggling with money, the rise of internet allows people outside Taiwan to watch the show via piracy. The openness of discussion topics in the show impressed audience in other Chinese spoken regions where censorship is much stricter. It soon rose to be the most popular variety show in the entire Chinese speaking world and has left deep impact on contemporary Chinese pop culture. Overseas Chinese diaspora watch the show to catch up with their homeland. A number of Taiwanese variety talent with few other recognizable works became internationally known celebrities thanks to the show.
Over the other end of the Taiwan Straight, mainland China’s TV industry sky rocked. The huge consumption power of the populous market enables mainland TV producers with deep pockets to offer pay that can be hundred times higher than the standards in Taiwan industry. Creative talent fled up North for exciting new opportunities. Taiwan TV has been going downhill and imported mainland produced shows dominated rating charts. In 2015, the announcement that Kangsi Coming would soon come to its conclusion shocked Chinese audience worldwide. Many see it as an end of a golden age of Taiwan entertainment.
Writer and director of “Didi’s Dreams” Kevin Tsai dedicates the film to “my colleagues who worked hard at ‘Kangsi’, the gracious guests who supported ‘Kangsi’ and the audience who had been there for us for 12 years of Kangsi.” A number of beloved variety talents who frequented Kangsi Coming reunite in the film but the tables have turned-Dee Hsu who used to be the authority in “Kangsi” now plays a struggling novice trying to find her position in the competitive entertainment industry, and the variety talents now are producers or hosts who control others’ career life and death.
“Didi’s Dreams” is distributed by Cheng Cheng Films.