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

恋恋风尘 | Dust in the Wind

Dust in the Wind

Master filmmaker Hou Hsiao Hsien directs this wistful story about lost love and lost innocence among Taiwan’s working class. Wan (Wang Chien-wen) and Huen (Hsin Shu-feng) are high school sweethearts living in a down-and-out mining community of Jio-fen in Taiwan’s backwaters. Too poor to continue their education, the two drop out of school and move to Taipei to find employment. When Wan’s father learns of his son’s decision, he simply says, “When you are willing to make yourself an ox, there will always be someone with a plow.” Huen finds work as a seamstress. Wan becomes a printer’s assistant and then a motorcycle delivery boy. The time passes as they work all day, pursue their studies at night school, and spend their scant free time drinking with their friends ? all working similarly menial jobs. One friend is beaten with an iron bar by his abusive boss; another has his finger chopped off in a machine. One by one, these friends are called up for their obligatory two years of military service. One day, while taking Huen shoe shopping, Wan has his bike stolen. Furious and out of a job, Wan wanders around the streets of Taipei until he contracts bronchitis. Huen lovingly nurses him back to health. Then he gets called up for military service.

Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Shufang Chen, Lawrence Ko, Tianli Lu, Fang Mei, Lai-Yin Yang | Presented at Berlin Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Telluride 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