Fight for Democracy

Invisible Nation

by Eva Fraser

Invisible Nation, directed by Vanessa Hope, tells Taiwan’s story through a lens of empathy, courage, and resilience. 

This film details most of Tsai Ing-wen’s presidency, also providing background on Taiwan and its history, specifically its colonial history with other powers— the Qing Dynasty and Japan, for example. The main point of the documentary, however, is to give an inside look into the people and leaders that make Taiwan a nation— one that is very different from the People’s Republic of China. It highlights past and recent struggles for independence, and instills a hope for the future. 

Visually, the doc engages with lovely landscapes pictured in interludes throughout the film, conveying the inherent beauty of Taiwan and its people. Tactful, poignant editing includes clips of protests, cultural celebrations, and many interview shots to deliver a well-rounded window into Taiwanese perspectives. 

Feminism, specifically its acceptance by the public as a means for Taiwanese independence, also plays an integral role. Tsai Ing-wen, president of Taiwan from 2019 to 2024, was the first female president, but she also emphasized that this resulted from people’s desire for the best leader they could have, regardless of gender.

Empathy is a main facet of Invisible Nation, and it is utilized masterfully. Each person we meet in the film, we get to see more over time. We watch them grow, learning of their struggles, their defeats, and their triumphs— specifically Tsai Ing-wen’s. The audience has access to her powerful speeches but also views clips from an interview in her home where her cat terrorizes the shot with its incessant mewing. Relatability is established, and through this, the common struggle for independence is actualized.

Invisible Nation captures the spirit of Taiwan with its emphasis on collective strength and action, as well as its documentation of history and key social movements, both past and present.

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