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Taiwan’s Indigenous Science Educational Animation in the International Spotlight
Go Go Giwas, an Indigenous science education animation film produced in Taiwan, has recently been screened at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival (CICFF) and the Bucheon International Animation Festival (BIAF) in Korea. Produced by a team led by Professor Li-Yu Fu of National Tsing Hua University (NTHU), the film was sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology. It has also been awarded the Best Animation Prize of the 51st Golden Bell Awards this year.
 
The CICFF is the world's most influential children's film event and the largest of its kind in North America. It is also the only international children's film festival recognized by the Academy Awards. Every year thousands of children's films from dozens of countries are submitted for consideration. The news that Go Go Giwas was accepted for inclusion in this prestigious event generated much excitement throughout the NTHU community.
 
The BIAF is the first animation film festival initiated in Asia, and this was its 18th festival. This year a total of 1,221 films were submitted from 70 countries, only 135 of which were accepted as finalists. Go Go Giwas was selected as one of the finalists in the "TV & Commissioned Film" category.
 
Fu said that Taiwan's animation industry is already widely recognized as top-notch, but this is the first time a Taiwanese educational animation has received so much acclaim. She also said that she would like to thank the Ministry of Science and Technology for its ongoing support, without which her long-term efforts in promoting science education could not have met with such success.
 
The main character in the film is Giwas, an 8-year-old girl of the Atayal tribe. Giwas is a very popular name among the Atayal females. Fu recently discovered that one of her ancestors belonged to the indigenous Siraya tribe. She truly hopes that the film will help promote science education and break down gender stereotypes in science to encourage more girls around the whole world to enjoy science learning.
 
In this 130-minute film, Giwas and her companions acquire both traditional wisdom and scientific knowledge thru daily life and various adventures. In one scene, from the traditional way of binding a torch they learn about flash points, combustion, and interface reactions. In other scenes they learn about geology, structural mechanics, the lotus effect, pigmentation, and light refraction.
 
Fu originally specialized in the history and philosophy of science. In February 1997, Chuan-Guo Yang, the principal of the Taian Junior High School in Miaoli County, invited her to give a lecture titled “Indigenous Science Education.” She spent half a year preparing for this speech, during which time she became deeply immersed in the world of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, and today is deeply involved in the promotion of Indigenous cultures and Indigenous science education.
 
In 2005, the National Science Council (NSC) expected to initiate a science popular TV channel in Taiwan like the Discovery Channel. For pilot runs, NSC commissioned Fu to produce an educational film based on Indigenous cultures and daily life. At that time Fu had no experience with animation, so she began to familiarize herself with the field by studying the work of Disney and the famous Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
 
Fu’s first production was The Flying Squirrel Tribe, which was followed up with The Flying Squirrel Tribe Revisited. The Flying Squirrel Tribe Revisited won the 48th Golden Bell Award in the year of 2013.
 
Fu extended a hearty thanks to all the members of her animation team, especially the well-known animation director Shi-Wei Wang; the excellent cultural consulting group formed by the tribal elders of the villages of Jian-Shi and Wu-Feng in Hsinchu County; and Professor Chung-Yu Mou, Professor Kuo-Chu Hwang, and Professor Shin-Rung Yeh, all of NTHU, for their scientific guidance.
 
Fu believes that the key to the success of Go Go Giwas lies in its compelling story. She also proudly points out that she has already received inquiries from African, German, and Danish scholars about producing films for them.
 
Fu has always been fond of listening to and telling stories. When she was a sophomore at university, Fu began going to the local hospital every Wednesday night to tell stories to the sick children, something she kept up until she graduated, even during final exams. Her early experience in story-telling became an important source of energy when she later began producing children’s animation. Therefore, Fu encourages college students to do some volunteer work as a way of gaining valuable experience.
 
Asked about her next goal, Fu smilingly says, “I wish to walk down the red carpet at the Academy Awards.”
 
Stills from Go Go Giwas
 
Professor Li-Yu Fu.

Professor Li-Yu Fu.

The screening of Go Go Giwas at

The screening of Go Go Giwas at "little Tsing Hua" a charter program for Indigenous high school students.

The Go Go Giwas production team had a field trip to experience Giwas life world at the village of Smangus.

The Go Go Giwas production team had a field trip to experience Giwas life world at the village of Smangus.

 

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