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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天马茶房 | March of Happiness

March of Happiness

1945-1947, Taiwan. A teenage couple were deeply in love despite objections from the girl’s family. Their tragic story is played out in travelling troupes, tea-houses and western-style cafes, with the backdrop of Japanese occupation and the 28 February Incident.

Directed by Cheng-sheng Lin | Starring : Giong Lim, Shu-shen Hsiao, Leon Dai, Shufang Chen, Doze Niu | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival

南国再见,南国 | Goodbye, South, Goodbye

Goodbye South Goodbye

After spending much of the decade making films about Taiwan’s complex and troubled history, Hou Hsiao Hsien turns his attention to its money-obsessed present with this gangster drama. Tattooed mobster, Kao , and his quick-tempered, aptly named protégé, Flathead, along with their girlfriends, Ying and Pretzel, are desperately trying to make it big. Their master plan is open a disco in Shanghai, but that scheme seems less and less likely with each call they get from their cell phone. Corrupt mainland potentates want a king’s ransom in kickbacks while Pretzel racked up a king’s ransom of debt herself at the mahjong table, prompting her to make a half-hearted suicide attempt. To make ends meet, these would-be entrepreneurs make a stab at swindling the government over swine — selling sows when they are supposed to be the more valuable studs. They wine and dine the farmers in rural backwater Chiayi only to get cut out of the deal and kidnapped by the corrupt police. This film was dubbed of the ten best films of the 1990s by numerous critics, including Susan Sontag.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Jack Kao, Kuei-Ying Hsu, Giong Lim, Annie Shizuka Inoh, Hsiang Hsi | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

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

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