一一 | Yi yi: A One and a Two

Yi Yi

With the runaway international acclaim of this film, Taiwanese director Edward Yang could no longer be called Asian cinema’s best-kept secret. Yi Yi swiftly follows a middle-class family in Taipei over the course of one year, beginning with a wedding and ending with a funeral. Whether chronicling middle-aged father NJ’s tenuous flirtations with an old flame or precocious young son Yang-Yang’s attempts at capturing reality with his beloved camera, Yang imbues every gorgeous frame with a deft, humane clarity. Warm, sprawling, and dazzling, this intimate epic is one of the undisputed masterworks of the new century.

Directed by Edward Yang | Starring : Nien-Jen Wu, Elaine Jin, Kelly Lee, Jonathan Chang, Issei Ogata | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, Telluride Film FestivalToronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Bergen Film Festival, Valladolid Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, London Film Festival, Oslo Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Fribourg Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Cinemanila Film Festival

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太平。天國 | Buddha Bless America

Buddha Bless America

In a sleepy part of rural Taiwan in the late 1960s, the life of a village is shattered when Uncle Sam arrives in tanks. The Yanks are there to take part in joint military exercises with Taiwanese troops, but the villagers take their compensation by direct methods – they steal anything that can be moved. One of the film’s great strengths is the way that writer Wu Nien-jen, in only his second feature as director, shades the comic tone. The film’s main character, Brain (Lin Cheng-sheng, himself a director), condemns the rampant theft but turns against the Americans when they take him for a beggar. He steals two huge boxes, not knowing what they contain.

Directed by Nien-Jen Wu | Starring : Cheng-sheng Lin, Chuan-Chen Yeh, Chung-Hsien Yang, Bin-hui Lee, Yung-Teh Hsu | Presented at Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival

麻将 | Mahjong

Mahjong

In this latter-day screwball farce, Yang puts a comic spin on his signature themes of globalization and urban ennui. The primary setting is a trendy night spot where Yang orchestrates the elaborate comings and goings of a raft of disparate characters, including a couple of mob enforcers, an American escort service madame, and a young Frenchwoman looking for the British entrepreneur who wooed her in London. Languages, classes and ideologies collide at a dizzying rate in this jaundiced love letter to Taipei at the close of the 20th century.

Directed by Edward Yang | Starring : Chen Chang, Virginie Ledoyen, Carrie Ng, Elaine Jin, Lawrence Ko | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Rotterdam 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

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

尼罗河女儿 | Daughter of the Nile

Daughter of the Nile

Lin Hsiao-yang, tries to keep her family together while working as a waitress at KFC and going to night school. Her mother and older brother are dead. Her father works out of town. It’s up to Lin Hsiao-yang to take care of her pre-teen sister, who has already begun to steal, and a brother who is a burglar and gang member. The title is a reference to a character in a manga called Crest of the Royal Family who is hailed as Daughter of the Nile. The film is a study of the life of young people in contemporary Taipei urban life, focusing on the marginalised figure of a woman and centered on a fast-food server’s hapless crush on a gigolo. The introductory sequence suggests a parallel between the difficulties faced by people in the film (Taiwan’s urban youth, transitioning from a classical civilization into a changing world) and the mythic struggles of characters in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Lin Yang, Jack Kao, Fan Yang, Tianlu Li, Fu Sheng Tsui | Presented at Torino Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival

青梅竹马 | Taipei Story

Taipei Story2

Lung, a former member of the national Little League team and now operator of an old-style fabric business, is never able to shake a longing for his past glory. One day, he runs into a forme teammate who is now a struggling cab driver. The two talk about old times and they are struck by a sense of loss. Lung is living with his old childhood sweetheart Ah-chin, a westernized professional woman who grew up in a traditional family. Although they live together, Ah-chin is always weary of Lung’s past liason with another girl. After an argument, Ah-chin tris to find solace by hanging out with her sister’s friends, a group of westernized, hedonistic youths.

Directed by Edward Yang | Starring : Chin Tsai, Hsiao-hsien Hou, I-Chen Ko, Nien-Jen Wu, Hsiu-Ling Lin | Presented at Febio Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival