Tony Coolidge

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Tony Coolidge (born January 9, 1967 in Taipei, Taiwan) is the producer, writer and subject of Voices in the Clouds, an award-winning documentary film.

Taipei Special municipality in Republic of China

Taipei, officially known as Taipei City, is the capital and a special municipality of Taiwan. Located in the northern part of the Island of Taiwan, Taipei City is an enclave of the municipality of New Taipei City that sits about 25 km (16 mi) southwest of the northern port city Keelung. Most of the city is located in the Taipei Basin, an ancient lakebed. The basin is bounded by the relatively narrow valleys of the Keelung and Xindian rivers, which join to form the Tamsui River along the city's western border.

Taiwan Country in East Asia

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. Neighbouring states include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the north-east, and the Philippines to the south. The island of Taiwan has an area of 35,808 square kilometres (13,826 sq mi), with mountain ranges dominating the eastern two thirds and plains in the western third, where its highly urbanised population is concentrated. Taipei is the capital and largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan and Taoyuan. With 23.7 million inhabitants, Taiwan is among the most densely populated states, and is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations (UN).


Early life

Coolidge was born in Taipei, Taiwan to a United States Army serviceman whom he never met and Chen Yu-Chu, a woman of Atayal descent. Until the age of three, he grew up in the indigenous village of Wulai, but after his mother married another military serviceman, the family left Taiwan and began living around the world on military bases. [1]

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Atayal people ethnic group

The Atayal, also known as the Tayal and the Tayan, are a Taiwanese indigenous people. In 2014, the Atayal people numbered 85,888. This was approximately 15.9% of Taiwan's total indigenous population, making them the third-largest indigenous group. The preferred endonym is "Tayal", although the Taiwanese government officially recognizes them as "Atayal".

Military base facility directly owned and operated by or for the military

A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations. A military base provides accommodations for one or more units, but it may also be used as a command center, training ground or proving ground. In most cases, military bases rely on outside help to operate. However, certain complex bases are able to endure on their own for long periods because they are able to provide food, water and other life support necessities for their inhabitants while under siege. Military bases for military aviation are called military air bases. Military bases for military ships are called naval bases.

After initially studying pre-med at the University of Texas at Austin, Coolidge graduated with a bachelor's degree in Advertising.

Pre-medical is an educational track that undergraduate students in the United States and Canada pursue prior to becoming medical students. It involves activities that prepare a student for medical school, such as pre-med coursework, volunteer activities, clinical experience, research, and the application process. Some pre-med programs providing broad preparation are referred to as “pre-professional” and may simultaneously prepare students for entry into a variety of first professional degree or graduate school programs that require similar prerequisites.

University of Texas at Austin public research university in Austin, Texas, United States

The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university in Austin, Texas. It was founded in 1883 and is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. The University of Texas was inducted into the Association of American Universities in 1929, becoming only the third university in the American South to be elected. The institution has the nation's eighth-largest single-campus enrollment, with over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 24,000 faculty and staff.


Coolidge began his career as a graphic artist for the University of Texas at Austin and The Daily Texan newspaper, but his mother's illness prompted him to move to Orlando, Florida in 1996, where he transitioned to Internet marketing and media. He was a partner for Orlando Online, an Internet services company that was one of the pioneers in the industry. During the Internet Boom of the 1990s, Coolidge co-founded, a B2C Internet auction company that eventually was publicly traded. [2]

<i>The Daily Texan</i>

The Daily Texan is the student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin. It is one of the largest college newspapers in the United States, with a daily circulation of roughly 30,000 during the fall and spring semesters, and it is among the oldest student newspapers in the South.

Orlando, Florida City in Central Florida

Orlando is a city in the U.S. state of Florida and the county seat of Orange County. Located in Central Florida, it is the center of the Orlando metropolitan area, which had a population of 2,509,831, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released in July 2017. These figures make it the 23rd-largest metropolitan area in the United States, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States, and the third-largest metropolitan area in Florida. As of 2015, Orlando had an estimated city-proper population of 280,257, making it the 73rd-largest city in the United States, the fourth-largest city in Florida, and the state's largest inland city.

Inspired by training in Landmark Education, Tony founded the volunteer organization Katrina's Angels in response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. The city of Orlando recognized Coolidge's community building efforts by inviting him to become a member of their International Advisory Committee. [3]

Hurricane Katrina Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 2005

Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane that made landfall on Florida and Louisiana in August 2005, causing catastrophic damage, particularly in the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Subsequent flooding, caused largely as a result of fatal engineering flaws in the flood protection system known as levees around the city of New Orleans, precipitated most of the loss of lives. The storm was the third major hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record to make landfall in the contiguous United States, behind only the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Michael in 2018.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 391,006 in 2018, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

In 2009, Tony Coolidge moved his family to Taiwan to gain familiarity with the island and its people and establishing himself as a 'bridge' to international opportunities.


After his mother's death, Coolidge returned to Taiwan and for the first time discovered his indigenous heritage. He wrote an article documenting his journey to his mother's hometown of Wulai that was published in ORIENT Magazine. [4] The article attracted filmmakers Derek Bedini and Aaron Hose, who approached Coolidge about making a documentary about his experience. [5] Since that time, Tony has written many English-language news articles in Taiwan for newspapers and magazines, such as Asia Trend, Cultural Survival, and Taipei Times. You can read a compilation of his articles on his news article blog. [6]

Cultural Survival is a nonprofit group based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, which is dedicated to defending the human rights of indigenous peoples.

The Taipei Times is the only printed daily English-language newspaper in Taiwan and the third to be established in the nation. Online competitors include The China Post, Focus Taiwan and Taiwan News. Established on 15 June 1999, the Taipei Times is published by the Liberty Times Group, which publishes the Chinese-language newspaper the Liberty Times, Taiwan's biggest newspaper by circulation with a pro-Taiwan independence editorial line.

Indigenous Advocacy

In 2001, Coolidge founded ATAYAL, [7] a nonprofit organization to share the cultures of the indigenous tribes of Taiwan. The organization hosted the Indigenous Heritage Festival at the University of Central Florida, which brought together tribal representatives from Taiwan and other parts of the world. Among them was tribal leader Alice Takewatan, who was touched by Coolidge's cultural exchange efforts.

His organization, ATAYAL, has since organized various international cultural and academic exchange projects between indigenous groups, including a project known as the Taproot Cultural Exchange Program, [8] which brought a delegation of Māori students from the Auckland University of Technology to tour Taiwan and connect with the tribal groups on the island. [9] In the Summer of 2017, his organization, with the oversight of Gary Smoke, Director of International Affairs, brought a delegation of Taiwanese indigenous people to Seattle, Washington to join Native Americans participating in the 2017 Tribal Journeys event. [10] Every year around Christmas since 2010, the organization has hosted Christmas in Wulai, [11] an annual activity that brings Christmas cheer, gifts, Santa Claus and carolers to the indigenous village of Wulai District in New Taipei City, Taiwan. [12] Future plans for the organization include expanding resources and establishing an international indigenous network, to facilitate increased exchanges between tribes. [13]

Film/Video Production

At her invitation, Coolidge returned to Taiwan in 2005 to film Voices in the Clouds. [14] [15] The film premiered at the Aruba Film Festival in June 2010, and went on to screen in over fifteen other film festivals around the world, including the San Diego Asian Film Festival and the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival. Voices in the Clouds has won several awards, including Best International Indigenous Film at the 2012 Wairoa Indigenous Film Festival in New Zealand [16] and the Golden Drum Award at the 2012 Nepal International Indigenous Film Festival in Kathmandu. [17]

Coolidge also co-produced a short film, Time and Music in a Disappearing World, which was screened in conjunction with an exhibition of photographs taken during the filming of Voices in the Clouds. The exhibition traveled throughout Florida and Taiwan from 2005-2010, raising funds that were donated to the tribal elders who were the subjects of the documentary. [18] [19]

In 2011, Coolidge began working on Beyond Hawaiki, a documentary film about the experiences of a group of Māori students who are selected to participate in a cultural exchange program to Taiwan. [20]

After moving to Taiwan in 2009, Tony created many projects to introduce Taiwan to international audiences. In 2017, Coolidge became the creator and producer of the On The Road with the XJ2 Crew, [21] which is a family travel show for YouTube. [22]

Personal life

Coolidge is married to Shu-min Coolidge and has three sons. [23] Coolidge has volunteered his time to create English-language educational programs in Taiwan. Some of his past programs included the Elite Leadership Club and the American Basketball English Camp. [24] The basketball program cooperated with the Tainan City government in 2016, inviting Tainan City Mayor Lai Ching-te. [25]

Related Research Articles

Taiwanese indigenous peoples indigenous peoples of Taiwan

Taiwanese indigenous peoples or formerly Taiwanese aborigines, Formosan people, Austronesian Taiwanese or Gāoshān people, are the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, who number almost 569,008 or 2.38% of the island's population—or more than 800,000 people, considering the potential recognition of Taiwanese plain indigenous peoples officially in the future. Recent research suggests their ancestors may have been living on Taiwan for approximately 5,500 years in relative isolation before a major Han immigration from mainland China began in the 17th century. Taiwanese aborigines are Austronesian peoples, with linguistic and genetic ties to other Austronesian peoples. Related ethnic groups include Polynesians, most people of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, among others.

New Taipei City Special municipality in Northern Taiwan, Republic of China

New Taipei City is a special municipality and the most populous city in Taiwan. Located in northern Taiwan, the city includes a substantial stretch of the island's northern coastline and surrounds the Taipei Basin, making it the second largest special municipality by area, behind Kaohsiung. New Taipei City is bordered by Keelung to the northeast, Yilan County to the southeast, and Taoyuan to the southwest. It completely surrounds Taipei. Banqiao District is its municipal seat and biggest commercial area. Until 2010, the area that roughly corresponds to the present New Taipei City was known as Taipei County.

Wulai District Mountain Indigenous District in New Taipei City, Republic of China

Wulai District is a mountain indigenous district in southern New Taipei City in northern Taiwan. It sits near the border with Taipei and is famous for its hot springs. It is the largest district in New Taipei, as well as the most mountainous, and is home to the indigenous Atayal people.

International Community Radio Taipei

The International Community Radio Taipei is Taiwan's only English-language radio station. Prior to 1979, the station served the U.S. military personnel in Taiwan as the Armed Forces Network Taiwan (AFNT). When the United States broke diplomatic ties with the Republic of China in 1979, the American business community, with the help of the ROC government, reorganized the station into ICRT.

Bô-bí-lo̍k is a documentary film produced in Taiwan in 2004.

Ministry of Culture (Taiwan) A ministry of the Republic of China responsible for culture

The Ministry of Culture is the ministry of the Republic of China (Taiwan) that promotes cultural and creative industries. The ministry also maintains the National Repository of Cultural Heritage.

Council of Indigenous Peoples organization

The Council of Indigenous Peoples, formerly known as the Council of Aboriginal Affairs, is a ministry-level body under the Executive Yuan in Taiwan. It was established to serve the needs of the country's indigenous populations as well as a central interface for the indigenous community with the government of the Republic of China.

Hsu Tain-tsair Taiwanese politician

Hsu Tain-tsair is a Taiwanese politician who served as the mayor of Tainan City from 2001 to 2010. Born in Tainan County, Hsu got his PhD candidacy in economics in the United States, where he started participating in the independence movement of Taiwan. He was placed on the black list of Kuomintang and was not allowed to return to Taiwan until 1990.

Taipei Film Festival film festival

The Taipei Film Festival is a film festival promoted by the city of Taipei, Taiwan, through the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Taipei City Government. It was first held in 1998, from September 28 to October 5. Currently chaired by cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bin, Taipei Film Festival is the only festival in Taiwan that offers a New Talent Competition for aspiring directors from around the world and a Taipei Awards competition for Taiwanese filmmakers.

Articles related to Taiwan include:

The Wairoa Māori Film Festival is New Zealand's premiere Māori and indigenous film festival.

Events from the year 2011 in Taiwan, Republic of China. This year is numbered Minguo 100 according to the official Republic of China calendar.

Wulai Atayal Museum Museum in New Taipei, Taiwan

The Wulai Atayal Museum is a museum about local aboriginal culture on Wulai Old Street in Wulai District, New Taipei, Taiwan.

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The architecture of Taiwan can be traced back to stilt housing of the aborigines in prehistoric times; to the building of fortresses and churches in the north and south used to colonize and convert the inhabitants during the Dutch and Spanish period; the Tungning period when Taiwan was a base of anti-Qing sentiment and Minnan-style architecture was introduced; in Qing dynasty period, a mix of Chinese and Western architecture appeared and artillery battery flourished during Qing's Self-Strengthening Movement; During the Japanese rule of Taiwan, the Minnan, Japanese and Western culture were main influencers in architectural designs and saw the introduction and use of reinforced concrete. Due to excessive Westernization as a colony, after the retrocession of Taiwan to the Republic of China in 1945 from Japan at the end of World War II, Chinese classical style became popular and entered into international mainstream as a postmodern design style. Today, Taiwanese architecture has undergone much diversification, every style of architecture can be seen.

The Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival is the oldest and longest running international ethnographic film festival in Asia. Founded in 2001 in collaboration with Academia Sinica, the biennial festival features new and classic works from ethnographic filmmakers around the world.

Taiwan Film Institute film foundation in Taipei, Taiwan

The Taiwan Film Institute is a foundation in Zhongzheng District, Taipei, Taiwan which aims at preserving Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese films.

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  1. Looking for Jeff Smith
  2. Tony Coolidge website
  3. City of Orlando International Affairs Archived 2012-06-22 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Tony Coolidge, “Village in the Clouds,” ORIENT Magazine Archived 2013-07-27 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Catherine Shu, “Past Imperfect,” Taipei Times May 6, 2011
  9. Joe Dawson, “Taiwan visit plants seed for creative collaboration,” Auckland Central Leader January 15, 2014
  10. Han Cheung, “Maritime tribal connections,” Taipei Times July 19, 2017
  12. Dana Ter, “Christmas comes to Wulai,” Taipei Times December 18, 2015
  13. Caroline Hosey, “Strength in numbers,” Taipei Times January 29, 2018
  15. Interview with Aruban Director Aaron Hose at AIFF 2011
  16. “Seventh Wairoa Maori Film Festival,” Pacific.Scoop
  17. “Taiwan’s Voices in the Clouds Bags NIIFF Top Award,” The Himalayan Times July 16, 2012
  18. “Exhibit Preserves Faces of Taiwan,” Orlando Sentinel, May 6, 2006
  19. Andrew van Wart, “Indigenous Images,” Central Florida Future May 15, 2006
  20. "Young Voyagers," Taipei Times, October 28, 2012
  22. “Young American brothers explore Taiwan and share discoveries from children’s point of view,” Asia Trend October 30, 2017
  23. Steven Crook, “Tony Coolidge, A Taiwanese Aboriginal Activist from the US,” TheNewsLens International October 26, 2015
  24. Keith Menconi, “Taiwan Talk: Interview with Tony Coolidge,” ICRT Radio March 28, 2016
  25. Daily newscast, “Friendship Games Tournament in Tainan City,” FormosaTV February 2, 2016