Selected for the San Francisco CAAMFest 2013, the documentary Go Grandriders follows a group of octogenarians on their 13-day journey around Taiwan. The film shares their individual stories, their camaraderie and the hurdles they faced during their fall 2007 journey. The Taiwanese documentary premiered in the US on March 15 and 23, with its director, Huan Tien-hao, and producer, Ben Tsiang, there to answer questions after the screenings.
All of the riders were in somewhat decent health given their years, but they all suffered from aches and pains which accompanies old age, so completing the trip did not come easy. Among them, two had survived cancer, four were hearing aid dependent, five had high-blood pressure and eight were suffering from cardiovascular disease.
The participants came from all walks of life, and at times, their life stories were interwoven with pivotal moments in Taiwan’s history, including Japanese colonialism, and the inflow of immigrants from the mainland after WW II. They had diverse careers and religious beliefs, but they all encouraged and helped each other towards fulfilling their dream.
The ride was initiated by Taiwan’s Hondao Senior Citizens Welfare Foundation, with the goal of promoting a positive image of the island’s aging population. The zest for life shown by the grandriders is important, especially given Taiwan’s aging society. By 2016, the elderly population (65 and over) will outnumber the young on the island.
Huan told the American audience that he originally planned to shoot a 15-minute short film, but was later touched by the story of each rider, and decided to develop it into a 90-minute film. Donald Young, program director for CAAM, said Go Grandriders tells not only the story of the elderly in Taiwan, but also the serious issue of global population aging. Tsiang said, the significance of the documentary film lies not in the domestic box office success, but that the film evokes the courage of many elderly people to realize their long dormant dreams.
The film was produced by CNEX, the non-profit organization founded by Tsiang to develop documentary films in the Chinese-speaking world. After graduating from Stanford University, Tsiang co-founded the Chinese web portal, Sina.com, in the Bay Area. When a heart attack sidelined him for two months, he returned to work only to find things had continued pretty smoothly without him. When he considered his next challenge, CNEX was created in 2007.
Tsiang pointed out that Peter Starr, producer of the Discovery Channel and reporter of Motorcyclist magazine, was very touched after watching the short teaser for Go Grandriders on YouTube. Starr then led a team of five American senior riders to Taiwan to start a weeklong motorcycle journey in October 2012 and invited the grandriders from Taiwan to participate in a 398-mile grand tour of the coastal highway, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, this August.
Go Grandriders was released in Taiwan in October 2012, and topped Taiwan’s documentary box office. Tsiang was excited that both screenings were sold out at CAAMFest in San Francisco and added a special screening in Palo Alto especially for the Taiwanese-American community there.
Posted in Local News
Tagged Ben Tsiang, Bruce Fuh, CAAMFest, CNEX, Donald Young, Go Grandriders, Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation, Huan Tien-hao, Motocyclist, Peter Starr