Hou Xiaoxian’s overwhelmingly moving film is at least 70% autobiographical: these are remembered scenes from his own mischievous childhood and near-delinquent adolescence, and the fact that he speaks the opening and closing voice-overs himself confirms the intimacy and candour of the memories. But this is also the story of an entire generation, the generation of Mainland Chinese who settled in Taiwan in the late 1940s and then found themselves unable to return home after the Communist victory of 1949. A story then, of displaced persons and displaced emotions, in which traditional family bonds suffer the pressures of exile and social change and begin to crack under the strain. It’s a story never before told on film, and certainly never visualised in images of such measured warmth and beauty.
Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Feng Tien, Fang Mei, Ru-Yun Tang, Ai Hsiao, Ann-Shuin Yiu | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Torino Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival