Friends or Foes?

Fiction︱35’50”︱2014︱PTS, Taiwan︱HD︱Color︱English Subtitles
2014, Opening Film, Taiwan International Children’s Film Festival, Taiwan

Friends or Foes? is about Xiang-An Zhang, a sixth grader, who runs into a dilemma when making a new friend. What Xiang-An encounters correspond to a question in his Civics Education homework, which states “what do you do when friends make a mistake? A: Break off with them; B: Stay loyal to them; C: Try to understand why and give them some advice.” How will the story end when children face a dilemma with their friends?

Xiang-An is a sensible child. His parents have been working out of town for years and he started living with his grandparents since first grade. He is quite helpful with housework and has a pleasant personality. One day, he happens to witnesses his grandfather, who works as a security guard, is brutally humiliated by a young rascal boy. Xiang-An is so angry and, without realizing the impact of this incident on his own mind, subsequently takes a further step to make an unusual new friend…

About “Friends or Foes” --
A collaborative creative film project on what children care most—

In 2013, Public Television Service (PTS) in Taiwan invited one of the most prominent film and TV producers Ms. Liming Huang and director Ms. Shaudi Wang to develop a creative special short film project “Friends or Foes” as the opening event for Taiwan’s International Children’s Film Festival 2014 (TICFF 2014). The film contains four stages for completion—research, filming of the first part, screening and collect children’s submissions and finally filming the ending.

During the research stage, the production team invited one professional children psychologist and three elementary school teachers to host workshops within their own schools interviewing about 90 children aged 8-10 years old to set the tone and to develop the theme and characters of the story based on children’s own perspectives and opinions. They have found that “friendship”, is what they commonly concerned most in their school lives. Then the three teachers asked their students at schools to describe their most unforgettable experiences with their friends in words, photos and drawings. Director Wang then collected those stories from which she looked for materials and inspiration to film the first part of Friends or Foes?

Director Shaudi Wang created an unfinished story, the film pauses at the situation when Xiang-An in the film faced a choice while his new friend is going to step into a dangerous mistake… What should he do? The first part then was showcased as the opening film at TICFF 2014 and also aired on PTS channels and the video stream was screened on the Internet and mobile devices. In addition, DVDs were distributed to teachers to work with their students in school to participate in creating the endings for the film. PTS has asked children to submit their own ideas or endings. There have been over 600 submissions in total. In the final stage, after 2 rounds of selections, 7 submissions were chosen and Director Wang has filmed three different endings based on children’s submission.  

In Director Wang’s opinion, “Since it’s the children’s concern and dilemma, it ending shouldn’t be decided only by adults.” And after the screening of “Friends or Foes” at TICFF 2014, Director Wang herself also hosted workshops and guided children to complete possible endings for the film.

“Friends or Foes” is an adult-children collaborated short film. It is full of creativity in form and content. It is a story of friendship with three brilliant endings, encompassing kindness, humor, sympathy and surprises!

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About Public Television Service Foundation

Founded in 1998, Public Television Service (PTS) is the leading public service broadcaster in Taiwan. Operated as an independent public organization, PTS aims to provide value-added quality programming services covering a wide range of categories to present the diversity and creativity in Taiwan without the intervention of commercial and political power.
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