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Taiwanese in America

MUBI Special

Following the breakout of the New Taiwanese Cinema in the 1980s, two directors, Sylvia Chang and Ang Lee, brought the acute sensibility of the movement to the United States, telling compassionate tales of immigration and cultural assimilation. Chang, already an established actor and director, made one of her strongest films with Siao Yu, striking a delicate balance by bringing together the lives of two couples from disparate cultures and finding profound emotional truth. Meanwhile, Ang Lee, now one of Hollywood’s most adventurous filmmakers, made his feature debut with Pushing Hands, a remarkably assured and nuanced story of cultural and generational differences. While their contemporaries, such as Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien, sought out questions regarding Taiwanese identity at a time of change in the nation, Chang and Lee subtly adapted remarkably similar concerns to America, a melting pot in which immigrants continue to struggle with feelings of isolation and equivalence.

Siao Yu

Sylvia Chang Taiwan, 1995

Directed by Sylvia Chang, and co-written by Ang Lee, Siao Yu frames gritty ’90s Manhattan with the sensibility of the New Taiwanese Cinema. Daniel J. Travanti and newcomer René Liu deliver powerhouse performances in this humble and extraordinarily beautiful story of immigrant life in America.

Pushing Hands

Ang Lee Taiwan, 1991

Part of the “Father Knows Best” trilogy that propelled him into international stardom, Ang Lee made his debut with this witty and heartfelt drama. Tenderly considering cultural differences between the East and West, Pushing Hands became the first Taiwanese feature to be distributed in the U.S.

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