Also Like Life: A Hou Hsiao Hsien Retrospective



People seriously love Taiwanese director, Hou Hsiao Hsien. So much so there’s an international Hou Hsiao Hsien retrospective making its way around the world.

It started in Vienna in May 2014, then it went to New York, California, Rotterdam, Toronto, Sweden and now it’s in Vancouver. Its schedule for the rest of 2015 includes Chicago, Cleveland, San Diego, Munich, London, Sao Paolo, Michigan, Tokyo and Singapore.

But what about Taiwan? Guess what. It’s not coming to Taiwan.

So far, “Also Like Life” has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times Review of Books, The New Yorker and The Village Voice. It seems like people everywhere else are really enjoying it. And that’s just, you know, great.

All 17 of Hou’s films are being screened in 35mm, including titles that aren’t available on DVD, such as his three earliest features, a trio of romantic comedies, as well as short films and collaborations with other filmmakers. A book, “Hou Hsiao-hsien”, is also being released.

The book’s mission statement really makes me feel like we’re missing out:

“For younger critics and audiences, Taiwanese cinema has a special status, comparable to that of Italian Neorealism or the French New Wave for earlier generations, a cinema that was and is in the midst of introducing an innovative sensibility and a fresh perspective. 

Hou Hsiao-hsien is the most important and influential Taiwanese filmmaker and his sensuous, richly nuanced work is at the heart of everything that is vigorous and genuine in contemporary film culture. An heir to the great modernist legacy – with its use of elegantly staged long takes, the performance of many non-actors, and a radically, even vertiginously, elliptical mode of storytelling – Hou’s work does place unusual demands on the viewer, but its sophistication is understated and its formal innovations are irreducibly bound up with the sympathetic observation of everyday experience. 

By combining multiple forms of tradition with a uniquely cinematic approach to space and time, Hou has created a body of work that, through its stylistic originality and historical gravity, opens up new possibilities for the medium.”

The event was organized by the Center for Moving Image Arts at Bard College in New York, in collaboration with the Taipei Cultural Center (in New York), the Taiwan Film Institute, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of China. Obviously none of these groups had the bright idea to bring it to Taipei.

Photo Credit: filmmuseum.at



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