The event was billed as "Taiwan" nights - with a focus on directors like Tom Shu-Yu Lin - who flew in to attend the premiere of his well-crafted "coming of age" film at the 25th (Silver) annual Asian Pacific Film Festival due to the generous support of the Taipei Economic & Culture Office.
In a Q & A session after the screening, the soft-spoken filmmaker noted that his new feature - "Winds of September" - was slightly autobiographical in nature.
The entertaining narrative focuses on a fictionalized account of Lin's recollections of events several months prior to graduation and a Taiwanese game-fixing baseball scandal that erupted on the sports scene at that time.
With a keen eye for detail, 33-year-old director recreates a handful of nostalgic moments, with great insight.
Stand-out scenes includes those when the high-school boys bond in their clubhouse as they flip through comics, chat about girls and reveal their subsequent sexual fantasies.
In one startlingly realistic scene, the boys strip down and hop into the pool under a picturesque starry-night, without a care in the world.
When a guard appears out-of-nowhere, the boys submerge themselves underwater, to escape detection.
As they hug the wall of the pool, and nervously peer over it occsionally to monitor the guard's whereabouts, Lin's lens innocently captures a row of naked male butts au naturel.
"When we discussed the scene, I informed the actors that I was not going to use a lot of fancy camera-work, and tight angles, to ensure nothing was exposed. Whatever showed showed, and would be left in," he stated matter-of-fact to the boys.
So, what one theatre-goer in the movie theatre described as a "homoerotic: moment" remained in the film.
I pointed out to Lin that I noticed that with each set-up - whether it be in a mundane-looking stairwell at the school or in a video shop awash with eye-catching visuals - he appeared to take a subtle formal approach to the filmmaking.
"The approach was traditional in many respects. Was that intended?"
"Yes. Because it was a nostaligic piece, I used a formal approach to emphasize it."
During the screening, I couldn't help but notice that the two young leads (relatively unknown outside of Taiwan) were quite good-looking.
"The male lead (Yen) is quite handsome and has been approached to do bubble-gum heart-throb type of roles to capitalize on that. Because my film was in a more serious vein, he agreed to act in the part."
The title - "Winds of September" - was a no-brainer.
"Each fall, winds sweep through the streets of Hsinchu."
According to the filmmakers, the healing breezes hint at change, push forward the future, and urge the unknown.
The auspicious winds shake leaves off the old trees the youths pine under, and ultimately, signal the end of one phase in life and the start of another.
"Winds of September " doesn't make any ground-breaking in-roads in filmmaking or any startling new observations about youths coming of age, but it is a charming entertaining little film worth the price of admission.
Julian Ayrs snoops on high-profile guests from perch in the background!
Photos by Loren Fiedler