泪王子 | Prince of Tears

Prince of Tears

Largely based on Yonfan’s childhood memories, Prince of Tears is akin to a sumptuous fairy tale. Alternately magnified through the eyes of innocent children and darkened by the disturbed dreams of frightened, guilty adults, the realities of a little-known era are explored through Yonfan’s powerful vision. As in the best of fables, here too we have a handsome prince and a beautiful princess, a charming fairy and a mean ogre. Elegantly shot, the film weaves the characters and their stories together in a mysterious and lyrical fashion. Yonfan’s pristine touch as production designer seamlessly matches the vibrant light and colour of Chin Ting-chang’s cinematography. As a result, the film’s stunning look provides a stark contrast to the terror within the environment. As both an exquisite rhapsody of emotions and an intriguing historical account, Yonfan’s work is utterly unique. It charms, evokes and informs, perfectly capturing the confusion of adolescence, when the world is full of beauty one moment and immersed in darkness the next.

Directed by Yonfan | Starring : Hsiao-chuan Chang, Terri Kwan, Wing Fan, Kenneth Tsang, Jack Kao | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Moscow Film Festival

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停车 | Parking

Parking

On Mother’s Day in Taipei, Chen Mo makes a date for dinner with his wife, hoping to bring their estranged relationship back together. While buying a cake on his way home, a car unexpectedly double parks next to his car, preventing his exit. For the entire night, Chen Mo searches the floors of a nearby apartment building for the owner of the illegally parked car, and encounters a succession of strange events and eccentric characters: an old couple living with their precocious granddaughter who have lost their only son, a one-armed barbershop owner cooking fish head soup, a mainland Chinese prostitute trying to escape her pimp’s cruel clutches, and a Hong Kong tailor embroiled in debt and captured by underground loan sharks. After many hardships, Chen Mo finally gets his car out of the parking space, and, with new friends riding beside him, advances toward a new horizon in life.

Directed by Mong-Hong Chung | Starring : Chen Chang, Gwei Lun-Mei, Leon Dai, Chapman To, Jack Kao | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, Taipei Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival

柔道龙虎榜 | Throw Down

Throw Down

Hong Kong director Johnnie To pays tribute to the films of Kurosawa Akira with Throw Down, an uplifting comedy-drama about three troubled souls who find hope when they find each other. Taking place in a surreal alternate reality where all conflicts can be solved with a good judo match, Throw Down is about the importance of finding joy and honor in doing what you love. Johnnie To, who still calls Throw Down his favorite film in his filmography, uses every single directing trick up his sleeves to create exhilarating set pieces that prove he’s one of Hong Kong cinema’s greatest stylists.

Directed by Johnnie To | Starring : Louis Koo, Aaron Kwok, Cherrie Ying, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Siu-Fai Cheung | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival

千禧曼波 | Millennium Mambo

Millenium Mambo

From one of the world’s greatest living directors and critically acclaimed as his finest film, Millennium Mambo is as stylish, hypnotic and mesmerizing as Wong Kar- Wai’s hit film, In the Mood for Live, which it clearly resembles in its evocative portrayal of an intense relationship and in its stylish direction powered by a thumping electric soundtrack. Winner of the Grand Prix Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Millennium Mambo is a strikingly beautiful film set in Taipei’s hot nightclub scene. The remarkable Shu Qi stars as Vicky, a lost soul who hangs out partying with her friends, smoking nonstop, and dancing and flirting. The youthful Vicky is torn between two men, Hao-Hao and Jack. She lives with Hao-Hao (Tuan Chun-hao), but he doesn’t seem to excite her anymore, so she starts seeing an older gangster, Jack (Jack Kao), although the depth of the relationship is left purposely ambiguous. Some degree of affinity between them begins to take shape: it may lead to a still closer relationship or a permanent friendship. Although Vicky wants to be a free spirit, she is battling demons that cast dark shadows over her somewhat meaningless existence. One of the world’s greatest filmmakers, Hou Hsiao-Hsien has made an innovative and daring film that is nothing short of mesmerising.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Qi Shu, Jack Kao, Doze Niu, Chun-hao Tuan, Pauline Chan | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Flanders Film Festival, AFI Film Festival, Hawaii Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, London Film Festival, Bangkok Film Festival

海上花 | Flowers of Shanghai

Flowers of Shanghai

After a long line of films interrogating Taiwan’s past and present, Hou Hsiao-hsien turned to 19th-century China, adapting Han Bangqing’s late Qing novel on the upscale brothels of Shanghai’s foreign concessions. Denied permission to shoot in the city itself, Hou made his film entirely in a studio — befitting the cloistered, microcosmic world of the courtesans and their patrons — and reduced the novel’s sprawling cast to a handful of central characters. Cantonese civil servant Wang has hit a rough patch with long-term companion Crimson and looks to her younger rival Laelia; haughty Emerald (Michelle Reis) connives with Luo to buy out her contract; and up-and-coming Jade resists experienced elder courtesan Pearl, and has a liason with the naive Zhu Shuren. These relationships — governed by strict codes of money and power — are conveyed in appropriately sensual yet rigorous style: carefully choreographed camerawork by Lee Ping-bin, a minimal editing scheme (37 shots, each bracketed by fades), and haunting leitmotifs from composer Hanno Yoshihiro.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Carina Lau, Michelle Reis, Hada Michiko, Jack Kao | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Taipei Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival, Auckland Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki 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