Delving deeper into the workings of settler colonialism in eastern Taiwan, our exploration will center around a series of films that shed light on the intricate relationship between logistical infrastructure and Indigenous communities. Early Japanese colonial propaganda films such as Southward Expansion to Taiwan (1940) and Sayon’s Bell (1943) were the first to show modern infrastructure in the mountains around Su’ao and into Hualien on the silver screen. Another key roadway in eastern Taiwan is the Central Cross-Island Highway. This highway, constructed with funding from the U.S. military, passed through traditional Truku territory and made its cinematic debut in director Pan Lei’s propaganda film On Mount Hehuan (1958), the first to address the impact of major infrastructure development on Indigenous homelands. Later, director King Hu would choose to set portions of Dragon Gate Inn (1967) and A Touch of Zen (1971) along the Central Cross-Island Highway. The contrasts between these film clips and historical photographs help us to further consider the settler colonialism underpinning this infrastructure. The Central Cross-Island Highway also involved settler veterans sent to develop wilderness areas, supported by the Veterans Affairs Council. Taiwan’s most notable early avant-garde film—Richard Chen’s Liu Pi-Chia (1965)—records this program for retired soldiers, which we will compare with the idealized settler veteran trope seen in On Mount Hehuan. Forty years later, anthropologist Hu Tai-li interviewed that same veteran, Liu Pi-Chia, for her documentary Stone Dream (2005) and considered the relationships between disadvantaged settler veterans and their Indigenous spouses. Finally, we will discuss Song of Orchid Island (1965), another Pan Lei-directed drama which foreshadows the emergence of tourist photography that would later pose challenges to the Tao Indigenous community’s islandic homestead. Once again, this drama provides us with a valuable comparative perspective, enabling us to pair it with Hu Tai-li’s ethnographic documentary Voices of Orchid Island (1993). In the realm of critical discourse surrounding these early films, the spotlight often falls on the characters portrayed, such as how the myth of Sayon built a specific model for Japanese-Indigenous relations, or how Taiwanese filmmakers of Han descent replicated ethnic chauvinism. Indeed, this othering gaze is still ubiquitous in contemporary Taiwanese society, making a critique addressing this racism vitally important.2 This article furthers this line of inquiry by delving into the underlying logic of racialization intricately woven within the newly developed transportation infrastructure of that era. Notably, the recognition bestowed upon Pan Lei for directing location-based films brings to the forefront the significance of the transportation infrastructure that facilitated these engagements within Indigenous territories, even if the biases are clear. The selected films in our study center on eastern Taiwan, encompassing narratives that depict the appropriation of specific lands and symbolic acts of violence, all unfolding around the subject of modern infrastructure. In the visual tapestry of this region, home and the unhomely are inevitably entwined with the creative destruction of infrastructure. This realization served as the impetus for our research, as we delved into the latest infrastructure endeavors in eastern Taiwan and their cinematic portrayal. Through the lens of these films, we aim to unearth the profound significance underlying development, wilderness clearing, and the tourist gaze.