Award-winning French director receives Taiwan citizenship

Jean-Robert Thomann directed 16 Taiwan documentaries, praises Taiwanese hospitality

French filmmaker Jean-Robert Thomann in Taipei. (CNA photo)

French filmmaker Jean-Robert Thomann in Taipei. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — French director and recipient of the 2017 Prix franco-taïwanais cultural award, Jean-Robert Thomann, was granted Taiwanese citizenship at the end of October and has shared his thoughts on Taiwan's society.

According to Liberty Times, Thomann was naturalized as a Taiwanese citizen due to his distinguished expertise after the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) approved his application. He has directed 16 documentaries on Taiwanese culture and traditions, including Taiwanese opera, glove puppetry, indigenous music, and calligraphy.

Thomann told CNA that his first encounter with Taiwan came in March of 1996 and that he decided to move to this beautiful island in 2009 after being introduced to Taiwanese film directors Hou Hsiao-Hsien (侯孝賢), Edward Yang (楊德昌), and Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮). He said that Taiwan is a "city of film" to French audiences.

During his 23 years in Taiwan, Thomann has had the opportunity to witness the evolution of Taiwanese politics. He expressed his hope that Taiwan will not lose its democracy and freedom after the 2020 presidential election, saying that he has noticed the sensitive issue of Taiwan-China relations permeating the culture sphere in Taiwan.

Thomann currently serves as a guest lecturer at Chung Yuan Christian University and is a graduate student in film at the National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA). He pointed out that Taiwan is unique for its diversity, inclusion, and convenience and that he fully enjoys Taiwanese people's warmth and hospitality.

The Prix franco-taïwanais was established by Taiwan's Ministry of Culture and France's Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques in 1996 to promote culture exchanges between the two countries. Thomann was the winner in 2017, along with French dancer Christian Rizzo and political researcher Stéphane Corcuff.

French filmmaker Jean-Robert Thomann. (CNA photo)