The Man Who Couldn’t Leave


  • Singing CHEN
  • Taiwan
  • 2022
  • 34 min
  • Immersive
  • Dutch Premiere
  • DocLab: Nervous Systems, IDFA Doclab Spotlight, Focus: Playing Reality

Green Island off the southeast coast of Taiwan is now a memorial park, but in 1949 it was a penal colony where political prisoners were detained. This was the time of the White Terror, when the island’s military rulers declared a state of emergency and aggressively persecuted Communists. An estimated 4,000 Taiwanese did not survive this period, and many were imprisoned for years.

A-Keun was among them. In the VR piece The Man Who Couldn’t Leave, he is the guide who welcomes the viewer to the barracks. Surrounded by fellow prisoners, he talks about daily life, boredom, hunger, comradeship and the loss of a sense of time. Most moving is the story of his friend A-Ching, who died in prison, leaving a final letter with A-Keun to deliver to a daughter he would never live to see.


  • 34 min
  • Spoken languages: Taiwanese, Chinese
  • Subtitles in: English
Singing CHEN
Shih Ken Lin for Outland Film Production, Singing CHEN for The Walkers Films
William Chou
Yen Ping-Ying
Technical artist
Ming-Yuan Chuan

IDFA history

Dutch Premiere
DocLab: Nervous Systems
IDFA Doclab Spotlight
Focus: Playing Reality

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IDFA history

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