爱你爱我 | Betelnut Beauty

Betelnut Beauty

In 21st Century Taipei, a restless city where young souls are set adrift, Feng and Fei-fei meet in a sudden summer afternoon thunderstorm. Feng, fresh out of the army, has just made a beeline for Taipei, eager to start a new life. Fei-fei has also recently turned a new page in her young life, having just run away from home. Fei-fei teams up with her friend, Yili, who works at a nightclub. They become “betelnut beauties” hawking their fare from a roadside stall of glass and neon. Betelnut, a legally sold chewing pepper that produces an effect not unlike marijuana, is a favorite among the working class men. Feng and Fei-fei quickly fall in love, two clueless souls clinging desperately to each other as they try to keep up with the punishing rush of city life.

Directed by Cheng-sheng Lin | Starring : Chen Chang, Angelica Lee, Leon Dai, Ming-chun Kao, Chen-Nan Tsai | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Jeonju Film Festival, Brisbane Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Flanders Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival, Helsinki Film Festival

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好男好女 | Good Men, Good Women

Good Men Good Women

Unknown man bothers actress with a diary stolen from her. Ambitious film about film and life by one of today’s greatest film-makers. The story is set in present-day Taipei. Liang Ching, a young actress, is bothered by an unknown man who calls her up regularly, but doesn’t say anything. He has also stolen her diary and keeps sending her pages from it by fax. Liang Ching is busy rehearsing a role in a film about two anti-Japanese guerrillas in China in the forties. Her approach to the scenes seems increasingly influenced by her personal background, especially by the faxed diary notes. She remembers the time when she worked as a bar-girl, was addicted to drink and drugs and had a short and intense relationship with the gangster Ah Wei. As Liang Ching works through the script of the film, the identification with her film role becomes stronger, but her life is still dominated by underworld figures. Her brother-in-law – whose wife, her sister, suggests Liang Ching is having an affair with him – is involved with the construction of a factory to treat chemical waste in the Taiwanese countryside. Slowly but surely, the boundaries between the film-in-the-film, the underworld and Liang Ching’s memories of Ah Wei disappear.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Annie Shizuka Inoh, Vicky Wei, Jack Kao, Giong Lim, Chen-Nan Tsai | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Changchun Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

多桑 | A Borrowed Life

A Borrowed Life

Sega, a Taiwanese born in the years of Japanese rule, felt closer to Japanese nationality and culture than to the Mainland Chinese authorities who took over in 1945. The Japanese contributed to the development of the island and its social infrastructure, leaving behind efficient and popular education and health-care systems. Conversely, Wen-Jian is typical of the sons born to Sega’s generation. Born and raised under Chinese government, their natural allegiance is to Chinese culture. They are inevitably mystified by and impatient with their parents’ fondness for Japanese culture and rule, their bafflement intensified by all they are taught about Japanese imperialist ambitions and wartime atrocities. Tjos os a generational conundrum with no solution, doubtless unique to Taiwan.

Directed by Nien-Jen Wu | Starring : Chen-Nan Tsai, Shufang Chen, Fang Mei, Jun Fu, Ing-How Tan | Presented at Vancouver Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival

戏梦人生 | The Puppetmaster

The Puppetmaster

Li Tien Lu is the world’s most famous puppet master. Born in Taïwan on the wake of World War I, he lived through the Japanese occupation, and American bombings of his country. Now eighty-four, reflects on the forces that shaped his life: “My hands breathed life into my puppet figures. I created them and directed the drama of their fates, almost as though I were God himself. But the reality is that, with someone above me pulling the strings, I, too, am a mere puppet…”

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Tianlu Li, Giong Lim, Hung Liou, Chen-Nan Tsai, Lai-Yin Yang | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival, Istanbul Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

悲情城市 | A City of Sadness

City of Sadness

Hou’s epic film focuses on the complex history of 20th-century Taiwan during the turbulent period in Taiwanese history between the fall of the Japanese Empire in 1945 and the establishment of martial law in 1949. Hou fashioned a national saga out of the events leading to the now infamous “February 28 Incident,” a massacre of thousands of Taiwanese civilians by Nationalist soldiers in 1947. Revolving around the fates of four brothers whose lives embody the major forces at work on the island, A City of Sadness unfolds a complex and engaging narrative contrasting the oldest brother, a bar owner eager to profit from the postwar economic boom and the youngest, a deaf-mute photographer with ties to the leftist resistance to the Kuomintang. Despite its broad canvas, the film remains intimately focused on daily life, with the major historical events taking place primarily offscreen. A City of Sadness remains one of Hou’s most formally inventive films, utilizing text onscreen, voiceover and a variety of languages. Made in the wake of the lifting of martial law on the island, A City of Sadness is both an important act of remembrance and a landmark of world cinema.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jack Kao, Tianlu Li, Sung Young Chen, Shufen Xin | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, New York Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Febio Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival