Finding Taipei in Film History

Author Jenna Lynn Cody 
Photographer Taiwan Scene, Chia Chia Record, A Really Happy Film Co., Ltd., Taipei Guest House, The Grand Hotel

Held every summer since 1998, the Taipei Film Festival (台北電影節) is one of the most important such gatherings in Asia, attracting film industry professionals and enthusiasts from across Asia and the world. Although the fest has an international competition section for new filmmakers submitting their first or second feature films, its primary focus is domestic, exclusively aimed at Taiwanese filmmakers, showcasing the work of local filmmaking talent as well as nurturing Taiwanese film innovation through a series of prizes, including an NT$1,000,000 grand prize. 

The Taipei Film Festival plays a pivotal role in advancing Taiwanese cinema, fostering audience growth, and deepening public engagement with the art of film. Alongside film screenings and prestigious awards, the festival orchestrates a diverse range of film-related activities. Its substantial contributions to the local film industry have positioned it as the first film festival in Taiwan to secure funding from the city government. In 2007, it cemented its presence by establishing a permanent office within the Taipei Culture Foundation (台北市文化基金會). 

This poster store, packed with posters and postcards featuring movie stills, is where you can find the merchandise you desire. (Photo/Taiwan Scene)

It’s no exaggeration to say that for those in the know, Taipei goes “mad for films” for a few weeks in early summer every year. Beyond attending a screening or related activity, there are many ways to delve into the spirit of the Taipei Film Festival. From a poster store where just about any movie poster can be sourced to a record store with a sizable selection of unusual film soundtracks, as well as grand buildings featured in Taiwanese films, there are numerous places for cinephiles to discover in the city of Taipei.

▶Check the official website of Taipei Film Festival

Treasures of Film

Super Poster Co. 色瞇瞇海報龍
The movie poster for  Titanic  once caused a buying frenzy, and currently, the most expensive one in the store is the poster for the movie Joker. (Photo/Taiwan Scene)

Down a quiet lane off Anhe Road (安和路) in the centrally-located Daan District, Super Poster Co.’s unassuming storefront belies a treasure trove inside. The shop, also called “Se Mi Mi Poster Dragon,” was founded in 1996 and operated in NTU-Gongguan Shopping District (台大公館商圈) near National Taiwan University (國立台灣大學) for over twenty years. The business, which moved to its current location seven years ago, is not only the most comprehensive but also the largest poster store in Taiwan. 

For film buffs, artwork associated with a feature matters — and that includes posters. That’s where Super Poster Co. truly shines. Movie and television posters take up the majority of their inventory by far. These include fairly recent releases, including Avatar:The Way of Water, Star Wars: Andor and just about any Marvel Cinematic Universe poster you might want. Others are more vintage, from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Something’s Gotta Give. Smaller-size stills from classic Disney animated features can be found in containers by the door, along with other non-film related prints. 

Other poster art on sale at Super Poster Co. includes prints from well-known painters such as Kandinsky and Chagall, botanical prints and the occasional map. Vintage postcards of ‘90s pop stars fill out a rotating rack in the center of the shop. They also do framing and digital printing, so film enthusiasts can have their rare or unique frames mounted there as well. As the majority of their inventory is imported, if they don’t have a poster you’re looking for, they can order it. 

Super Poster Co.色瞇瞇海報龍
ADD         16, Ln. 78, Sec. 1, Anhe Rd., Daan Dist. 
HOURS    12:30pm – 7:00pm (Monday to Friday)
                 12:30pm – 6:00pm (Saturdays)
                 (Closed on Sundays)

Chia Chia Record 佳佳唱片行
Chia Chia Record is an unwavering old record store in Taipei, where you can find music of any genre you desire. (Photo/Chia Chia Record)

Any film enthusiast will tell you that soundtracks are a vital part of crafting a thoughtful and successful feature. At the first mention of many well-known films, the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic theme. For others, the mood created by subtle use of the score plays a crucial role in scene-setting. 

One of the best places in Taipei to shop for film soundtracks, among other music, is Chia Chia Record, a small store concealed in a nondescript building on Zhonghua Road (中華路). Founded in 1976, it is one of the oldest continuously operating record stores in Taipei, with a second branch on Hankou Street (漢口街), just a short walk away near Taipei Main Station (台北車站). The Zhonghua branch is situated at the edge of the Ximending (西門町) Pedestrian Area. You’ll know you’ve found the right building by the music posters leading up the stairs, or keep an eye out for a small black cat that lives in the shop and regularly spends time in the stairwell or the building entrance. 

Chia Chia Record is the go-to destination for music and film enthusiasts seeking a tangible experience in the digital music era. Their extensive collection focuses on film-related works, including captivating soundtracks, CDs, vinyl records, DVDs, and Blu-ray Discs (BD). Whether you have a taste for Hollywood blockbusters, European art cinema, or the mesmerizing creations from Japan and Korea, as well as TV series and anime, Chia Chia Record caters to a diverse range of preferences. Noteworthy special editions, like the acclaimed Director’s Cut DVD by Ang Lee (李安) and the iconic Tokyo Story by Yasujiro Ozu, add to their appeal. Moreover, the store’s unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction ensures that if a desired item is not available in-store, their dedicated team will gladly assist in ordering it.

For enthusiasts of older films on DVD and film soundtracks, Chia Chia Record offers a delightful selection. From the Hong Kong action thriller film Infernal Affairs soundtrack on vinyl to classics like Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew on DVD, the collection is both extensive and diverse. Spanning the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Zhonghua store, the soundtracks are thoughtfully spread out, allowing visitors to explore at their own pace. So take your time and immerse yourself in the vast array of options available.

Chia Chia Record – Zhonghua 佳佳中華店
ADD          2F-3F, 110, Sec. 1, Zhonghua Rd., Wanhua Dist.
HOURS    10:30am – 10:30pm

Chia Chia Record – Hankou 佳佳漢口店
ADD          B1, 3, Sec. 1, Hankou St., Zhongzheng Dist. 
HOURS    10:00am – 10:00pm

Two Taipei Film Scenes

Taipei Guest House 臺北賓館🎬Scamsgiving《詐團圓》
The lobby of the Taipei Guest House, one of the movie’s filming locations. (Photo/A Really Happy Film Co., Ltd.)

Most people passing through downtown Taipei only ever see the ornate, French Mansard-style roof of the Taipei Guest House. Hidden behind high walls a short walk from the Presidential Office (總統府), the 123-year-old mansion has the reputation of a secret garden or hidden palace in Taipei. That’s because it’s difficult to visit. Weekend open houses are rare, with just fifteen scheduled for all of 2023. 

That didn’t stop director Yeh Tien-lun (葉天倫) from filming there, however. Yeh’s 2023 film Scamsgiving includes lavish scenes from inside the guest house, including the kitchen, lobby and staircase. The setting is meant to evoke the lives of a large, wealthy Taiwanese family as a young man claiming to be a long-lost grandson is brought to Taiwan to meet his supposed kin. However, as the plot unfolds, his true identity is revealed, exposing him as someone entirely different from his initial claims.

The second floor of Taipei Guest House is also one of the movie’s shooting locations and appears even more magnificent in the backdrop of the night. (Photo/A Really Happy Film Co., Ltd.)

For Taiwanese cinephiles lucky enough to visit the Taipei Guest House, be sure to check out the parts of the property where filming took place. But don’t stop there. There is a lot of history to experience on the grounds. Completed in 1901 and rebuilt in 1911, the historic building was designed by Japanese architects Dōgo Fukuda and Ichiro Nomura. The Treaty of Taipei was signed here in 1952. Before that, Emperor Hirohito stayed at the Taipei Guest House when he visited Taiwan.

The interior decoration of Taipei Guest House is rich and exquisite, which is why the production crew chose it as the mansion of a wealthy family in the movie. (Photo/Taipei Guest House)

Taipei Guest House 臺北賓館
ADD              1, Ketagalan Blvd., Zhongzheng Dist.
HOURS         To obtain the specific dates of open house for the Taipei Guest House, please refer to the Open House Schedule on Weekends and Holidays section of the official website.
MUST-SEE    Lobby, Staircase

The Grand Hotel 圓山大飯店🎬Yi Yi 《一一》

The Grand Hotel is a landmark on the Taipei skyline, perched above the city on a hill near MRT Jiantan Station (捷運劍潭站). It was built between 1952 and 1973 to accommodate visiting diplomats, as Taipei lacked high-end hotels at the time (the Taipei Guest House above was operated as more of a government building). Throughout its history, the Grand Hotel has hosted more than 2,000 dignitaries, diplomats, and celebrities from around the world. Esteemed guests have included former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, South Korean President Park Chung-hee, Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, among many others.

The brilliant red-pillared exterior is visible from many vantage points in Taipei, especially along the Keelung River (基隆河). The location itself is captivating, and was once the site of the Japanese-era Taiwan Grand Shrine. 

The lobby of the Grand Hotel served as a filming location for the movie Yi Yi. (Photo/The Grand Hotel)

As Taiwan’s first five-star hotel, the Grand Hotel stands as a majestic 14-story building in the style of a Chinese palace. With its red pillars, golden roof tiles, and splendid beam columns, it exudes a sense of luxury and elegance, representing the beauty of Eastern architectural artistry. The halls and spaces are adorned with classical paintings, such as the renowned Along the River During the Qingming Festival, and exquisite reliefs. Naturally, the Grand Hotel has become a preferred filming location for many movies, including Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman (《飲食男女》), where its magnificent red hall served as an iconic backdrop in the film’s poster for Yi Yi.

Edward Yang’s (楊德昌) seminal film Yi Yi won international acclaim when it was released in 2000. It would also be his final cinematic creation, as the famed director’s life was cut short by colon cancer in 2007. Yi Yi won the Best Director award at Cannes that year, making Yang become the first Taiwanese director to receive this honor. It not only garnered Yang’s first American distribution deal, but is considered one of the best films of the 21st century. 

The film Yi Yi begins with a grand wedding held at the Grand Hotel, showcasing its beautifully decorated interior in a traditional Chinese style. The vibrant colors of painted lintels and fiery red columns create a captivating setting as the characters prepare for a traditional Taiwanese reception. The story unfolds organically and contemplatively, with unexpected appearances of both the groom and his brother-in-law’s ex-girlfriends during the wedding, followed by a dramatic turn when the family matriarch suffers a stroke. This pivotal sequence at the Grand Hotel is undoubtedly an iconic moment in Taiwanese cinema.

The Grand Hotel 圓山大飯店
ADD               1, Sec. 4, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist.
MUST-SEE    Red-Pillared Exterior, Grand Hall, Artistic Interiors

This article is reproduced under the permission of TAIPEI. Original content can be found on the website of Taipei Travel Net (

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