‘Invisible Nation’ explores relationship between Taiwan and China


“Invisible Nation” comes to the M.V, Film Center on Saturday, July 6, at 7:30 pm. This documentary looks at the fraught relationship between Taiwan and China. Directed by Vanessa Hope, “Invisible Nation” explores the presidency and election of Taiwan’s first female president, Tsai Ing-wen, who served from May 20, 2016 to May 20, 2024. We see her working to preserve democracy in the country while geopolitical implications are all around. The film uses archival and contemporary footage to tell the story. Interviews with academics, activists, and experts are also part of the film, which has incredible access to Tsai Ing-wen. 

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, parallels are drawn between China and Taiwan in “Invisible Nation.” Who’s not to say that the same thing won’t happen to the small nation 100 miles from the coast of Southeast China? In the film Tsai Ing-wen is shown with the country’s beefed-up military but she says “This is not directed at having war with China. It’s getting ourselves prepared in case there is a Chinese invasion.” The film shows the president at home and out across the country and beyond. It’s her striking calm and matter-of-factness that help make the film so riveting. 

Tsai says in the film that “We don’t have a need to declare ourselves an independent state, we are an independent nation.” Then there is also footage of Chinese leader Xi Jinping declaring in speeches that Taiwan is part of China. It doesn’t appear that there will be a compromise or acknowledgement any time soon, as more recent news stories still report on the tensions between the two. At one point in the film, the proximity and relationship with neighboring authoritarian-run China is described as “dealing with a neighbor with a political agenda that wants to annex Taiwan.”

Director Hope has brought the small nation into the light with this fascinating and compelling look at Taiwan, making it more visible despite the ambiguity around the country’s name and its status around the world. In the film, Andrew J. Nathan, political science professor at Columbia University, says China has a strategy to minimize the “international personality of Taiwan.” Viewers will find this documentary educational and will appreciate the visuals of a nation dealing with considerable looming tensions while still practicing and enjoying modern democracy. Hope’s Taiwan is hardly invisible by the end of the film. 

Information and tickets for “Invisible Nation” are available at mvfilmsociety.com