A young Taiwanese filmmaker has made a documentary about the history of a group of his compatriots who emigrated to Okinawa in the 1930s when Japan governed Taiwan.

“Umi no Kanata,” with the English title “After Spring, the Tamaki Family ...,” focuses on a Taiwanese family of three generations on Ishigakijima island.

Director Huang Yin Yu, 28, learned of the existence of Taiwanese in Okinawa when he studied film production at Taipei's National Chengchi University and read books on the immigrants.

“What are those immigrants doing now?” he wondered.

After studying at a graduate school in Tokyo for two years from 2013, Huang began visiting Okinawa Prefecture.

Japan ruled Taiwan from 1895 to 1945 and in the 1930s, Taiwanese farming families collectively immigrated to Ishigakijima island, which forms part of the Yaeyama islands in Okinawa.

Their lives were affected by various events including World War II and Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty in 1972.

Before filming, Huang spent much time listening to Taiwanese and other related people in Okinawa, sometimes for up to two months at a time.

“I didn’t start to shoot the film until I understood the all words and proper names in their conversations,” said Huang.

The Japan-Taiwan jointly produced movie describes the first-generation Taiwanese grandmother who struggled to claim land on the island and then her children's generation who were forced to hide their roots while living in Okinawa. Her grandchildren don’t speak the traditional Taiwanese language at all as they have basically integrated and become more Japanese.

However, when more than a hundred members of the family gathered to celebrate the grandmother’s 88th birthday and later took her to Taiwan, the second- and third-generation members started questioning their identity.

Huang captures those scenes along with the family’s daily lives and their emotional changes closely and carefully.

“When 80 years of three generations have passed by, is the history of their immigration at an end? I am asking questions like this in the movie,” said Huang.

The film is being screened in Osaka and Okinawa in September after having completed its run in Tokyo.

This is a series of three films, and Huang aims to finance the remaining two by soliciting funds on the Internet.