暗恋桃花源 | The Peach Blossom Land

Secret Love Peach Blossom

Two drama companies happened to share one auditorium for rehearsal. Friction was inevitable. One of them played ‘Peach Blossom’, a comedy in medieval costume. Another played ‘Secret Love’, a sad story with contemporary setting. Though unreconciled in all aspects, they find themselves telling the same story: the story of Chinese people forced to leave home.

Directed by Stan Lai | Starring : Brigitte Lin, Shih-chieh Chin, Bao-ming Gu, Lichun Lee, Chen Limei | Presented at Tokyo Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival

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牯岭街少年杀人事件 | A Brighter Summer Day

Brighter

Slow, elliptical, and for the most part understated, Yang’s masterly account of growing up in Taiwan at the start of the ’60s is as visually elegant as his own Taipei Story and The Terroriser, and as epic in scope as Hou Hsiao Hsien’s City of Sadness. On the surface, it’s about one boy’s involvement in gang rivalry and violence and his experience of young love. On a deeper level, however, it’s about a society in transition and in search of an identity, forever aware of its isolation from mainland China, and increasingly prey to Americanisation. The measured pace may be off-putting, but stay with it – the accumulated wealth of detail invests the unexpected final scenes with enormous, shocking power.

Directed by Edward Yang | Starring : Chen Chang, Elaine Jin, Kuo-Chu Chang, Lawrence Ko, Lisa Yang | Presented at Toronto Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, London 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