Taiwan Film Festival

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pushing Hands

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.
Pushing Hands
Tui Shou

Directed by Ang Lee
導演 李安

Asian and western cultures collide in Ang Lee’s debut film. The pushing of hands, a tai Chi technique, teaches how to maintain one’s balance while destroying one’s opponent’s. Set in the U.S., the film traces the relationship between a Taiwanese man who has married an American woman, which takes on new complications when the man’s father, a tradition-minded Tai Chi master, moves into their home and their lives. Pushing Hands was the first in Ang Lee’s series of three father-centered films featuring veteran actor Lang Sihong. Lang would go on to appear in Lee’s The Wedding Banquet and the internationally renowned Eat Drink Man Woman.

Spring: The Story of Hsu Chin-yu

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.
Chuntian: Hsu Chin-Yu de gushi

Directed by Tseng Wen-chen
導演 曾文珍

Why did Hsu Ching-yu spend many years in prison for participating in an English class and supporting equal pay for Taiwanese and mainland employees? Even worse, her mainland Chinese English teacher was executed. Both were victims of the reactionary White Terror that swept through Taiwan in the 1950s. We meet Hsu as an old woman and follow her as she retraces her past, a history suppressed for four decades but now accessible through this film. By turns an adopted daughter, factory worker, political dissident, wife, and owner of an egg shop, Hsu Ching Yu’s life bears witness to the tumultuous changes in Taiwan over the twentieth century.

The Strait Story

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.
Fu Shih Kuang Ying

Directed by Huang Yu-Shan
導演 黃玉珊

The year was 1943 and Taiwan was under Japanese rule. After finishing his studies in Japan, famous Taiwanese sculptor and painter Huang Ching-cheng boarded the “Takachiho Maru” ship from Kobe, Japan to return home before heading to China for a teaching job. As the huge vessel approached the Keelung harbor, it was torpedoed by an American submarine. The Strait Story is the director’s attempt to recover a lost page of Taiwanese history. Through Shou-shou, a fine art restorer with a crippling illness, film viewers discover Huang’s childhood in rural Taiwan and maturation as an artist in Tokyo, and his enduring passion for art and love.

Secret Love for the Peach Blossom Spring

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.
Anlian Taohuayuan

Directed by Stan Lai
導演 賴聲川 (1992)

Two plays collide, as do the memories and emotions of the past and present. Through a scheduling mistake, two troupes find themselves trapped in the same rehearsal space. One play is a lofty, pretentious take on a soap opera while the other is broadly farcical, and yet the plays share common themes. Scenes and dialogues juxtaposed manage to cause offense, create comedy, and point to deeper truths. Based on Stan Lai’s famous play of the same name, the film also works as an allegory depicting a mainlander who fled Chinain 1949. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the original play.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Three Times

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.
Zuihaode Shiguang

Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien
導演 侯孝賢

Three Times, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s latest work, consists of three lyrical tales of love set in different eras (1911, 1966, and 2005), with actors Shu Qi and Chen Chang playing the couple in each. As the director explains, “It seems to me that by contrasting love stories from three different times, we can feel how people’s behavior is circumscribed by the times and places they live in.” A work of hypnotizing beauty, the film casts a backward gaze at Taiwan’s past and at Hou’s own career, tying together his earlier investigations of history with his recent turn towards contemporary urban life.

Murmur of Youth

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.
Meili Zai Changge

Directed by Lin Cheng-Sheng
導演 林正盛

Lin Sheng-cheng’s second feature, this film is perhaps the first in Taiwan to broach the subject of lesbian desire. The film offers a cross-section of Taipei society with the story of two teenage girls who share the name Mei-li. One Mei-li inhabits the concrete world of high-rise apartment buildings in the city center with her middle-class family; the other lives with her working-class family living in the lushly green outskirts of the city. The two girls’ paths cross when they both take jobs selling movie tickets, and in the cramped space of the ticket booth, their developing friendship takes an amorous turn.

Love Go Go

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.
Love Go Go
Aiqing lai le

Directed by Chen Yu-Hsun
導演 陳玉勳

Mismatched love, isolation, and the universal hope of finding one’s soulmate are the themes of this poignant film set in contemporary urban Taiwan. The story’s various characters each have some connection with the small bakery shop run by Ah Sheng’s aunt. Ah Sheng works in the back of the shop baking and designing pastries; his long-lost schoolmate is the woman who comes in to buy lemon pie; his roommate develops a blind love for the owner of an electronic pager she finds; a young salesman who sells defense gadgets tries to rescue a beautiful woman. This award-winning film is marked by a riot of bright colors, a sometimes anarchic spirit, and an always playful sense of fun.

1997 Golden Horse Awards for best screenplay adapted from another source (Raymond To), best supporting actor (Chuen Hing Chan), and best supporting actress (Wai Chun Liu).

Tigerwomen Grow Wings

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.
Mulaohu Feifeifei

Directed by Monika Treut

German director Monika Treut focuses her lens on Taiwan, examining the lives of three women of different generations against the backdrop of the socio-political changes of Taiwan and the 2004 presidential election. Treut offers subtle, moving portraits of the famous Taiwanese opera singer Hsieh Yue-hsia, award-winning novelist Li Ang, and up-and-coming filmmaker Chen Ying-rong. Through their eyes and stories, the viewer glimpses the many changes and continuing conflict in Taiwanese society, as well as the raucous campaigning typical of Taiwan elections.

How High Is the Mountain

Originally uploaded by claireclaire.

Directed by Tang Hsiang-chu
導演 湯湘竹

What do family and fatherhood mean in contemporary Taiwan? How do Mainland refugees relate to the families they left behind when they fled to Taiwan in the late-1940s? The director uses his own family to explore the answers to these questions. He not only explores his search for his father's past, but also examines his own recent experience of becoming a father himself. The director and his father return to China to meet relatives and reestablish long-broken ties of kinship through family gatherings, folk rituals and religious ceremonies, and through conversations with family members, teachers, and old friends.