Inititated by the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, twenty outstanding Taiwanese directors were each asked to create one five-minute short film inspired by the same topic: the uniqueness of their country.
The resulting stories and documentaries, which did not have to adhere to any kind of dictates, either formally or in terms of content, provide an astonishingly multifaceted panorama of Taiwanese society. The filmmakers’ personal perspectives span a wide-ranging network of images, between historical events and political vigilance, rebellion and devotion, magical realism and unflinching illusion. The diverse cinematic approaches used by these cineastes open a window onto their own imagination – whether they choose to employ an epistolary form, or a monologue, to include elements of a thriller, silent cinema, theatre of the absurd or dark comedy, or simply to observe carefully with a camera.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien, one of the leading proponents of Taiwanese new wave cinema, opens and closes this portmanteau film with his minimalistic tale “La belle époque” which focuses on the primal cell of any society – the family unit. An unusual film project that gives us an impressive array of food for thought. –Berlinale
Director Hou Hsiao Hsien, in a 1988 New York Film Festival World Critics Poll, was voted one of three directors who would most likely shape cinema in the coming decades. He has since become one of the most respected, influential directors working in cinema today. In spite of his international renown, his films have focused exclusively on his native Taiwan, offering finely textured human dramas that deal with the subtleties of family relationships against the backdrop of the island’s turbulent, often bloody history. All of his movies deal in some manner with questions of personal and national identity, particularly, “What does it mean to be Taiwanese?” In a country that has been colonized first by the Japanese and then by Chiang Kai-Shek’s repressive Nationalist Government, this question is pregnant with political connotations.
Hou was born to a member of the Hakka ethnic minority in southern Guangdong province in mainland China, but his parents emigrated to Kaohsiung, Taiwan… read more
Kevin Chu Yen-ping (Chinese: 朱延平; pinyin: Zhū Yánpíng; Wade–Giles: Chu Yen-ping; Cantonese Yale: Chu Yin-ping; born December 1950) is a Taiwanese film director. Chu once said in an interview that he is “not an artist,” but rather “a movie factory that puts out products to match the season”, and is compared to Hong Kong director Wong Jing.
Chu studied in Soochow University, and began to work in a studio of Central Motion Picture Company next to the school.
In 1980 Chu directed his first film, The Clown. The film is a successful comedy, which boosted the career of Taiwanese comedian Hsu Pu-liao, and began a series of successful and formulaic collaboration between Chu and Hsu. Hsu became known as “Taiwanese Chaplin”, and Chu’s The Funny Couple in 1984 with Hsu and child talent “Little Bing-bing” pays heavy homage to Chaplin’s City Lights. Though the collaboration was a big success, Hsu and Little Bing-bing suffered from exploitation and Hsu died in 1985 due to stress and… read more
Wu was born in a coal miner’s family. He started writing short stories for newspapers in 1975, when he was still an accounting major in college. After penning his first screenplay in 1978, Wu entered Central Motion Picture Corporation as a creative supervisor and worked with several leading Taiwanese New Wave directors such as Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Edward Yang. Wu has since wrote more than 70 screenplays that were made into films, and has become one of the leading artists of the Taiwanese Cinema of the 1980s. Wu has also set the record for winning the most Golden Horse Awards to date (Taiwan’s Film Awards), including a collaboration with the internationally acclaimed Hong Kong director Anne Hui on her film Song of Exile aka Ketu qiuhen (1990). His novels and screenplays have also made him one of Taiwan’s best-selling authors.
Nien-Jen Wu made his directorial debut in 1994 with A Borrowed Life (1994), aka Duo-Sang (1994). The award-winning movie commemorates Wu’s Japanese-educated… read more
Chang Tso-Chi was born in Jiayi, Taiwan, in 1961. He first majored in electrical engineering and went on to study film and drama at the Chinese Culture University, graduating in 1987. He first worked as a camera assistant and quickly became assistant director to Yu Kan-Pi, Yim Ho and Tsui Hark respectively. He was also Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s first assistant director on A City of Sadness (1988). Chang’s debut film, Ah Chung (1996), used a non-professional cast to demonstrate a special Taiwanese ceremony, Ba Jia Jiang (Eight Generals). This film won the Special Jury Prize at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival and the New Currents Award at the Pusan International Film Festival, winning also the Best Director Award at the Thessalonika International Film Festival, and Grand Prix du Jury and Best Photography at Zhuhai Film Festival, China. Chang’s second feature, Darkness and Light (1999) won the Grand Prix, Tokyo Gold Prize and the Asian Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival for Best… read more