November 7 – November 21

ECHOES FROM TAIWAN: THE MAJOR WORKS OF EDWARD YANG

One of the wonders of late twentieth-century world cinema was the school of talented directors who emerged through the wave of “New Taiwan Cinema” and its descendants during the 1980s and early 1990s. Filmmakers such as Hou Hsiao-hsien, Chen Kun-Ho and Tsai Ming-liang reinvigorated a national cinema focusing on everyday life, the conflict between the past and the present, historical trauma, identity and rapid urbanisation.

Edward Yang (1947–2007) was also one of the leading figures in this movement at a time when Taiwan was shaking off the legacy of authoritarian rule and strict censorship. This marked the beginning of a new spirit of openness in the arts. Yang’s special contribution was his obsessive focus on capturing the feeling of sprawling contemporary city life, primarily in Taipei, where he saw a society shaped by Confucian values rushing at full speed into a hyper-capitalist future. But his piercing vision of urban anomie, drift and desolation also proved to have worldwide resonance. Yang was still a toddler when his family, like some two million other citizens, emigrated from mainland China to Taiwan after the end of the Civil War. One of the richest themes in his films would become the search for identity – personal, cultural, social and political – in the small island nation. But Yang’s work was equally concerned with such universal subjects as missed opportunities and the age-old conflicts between parents and children.

This season profiles the key films of Yang’s career, including a pair of his urgent and enigmatic portraits of the clash of histories, sensibilities and cultures in modern Taiwan – The Terrorizers and Taipei Story – alongside the sprawling “memory works” that are his defining and lasting legacy: Yi Yi and the intimate but monumental A Brighter Summer Day.

November 7

7:00pm – A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY
Edward Yang (1991) 237 mins – Unclassified 15 +*

Yang’s intimate and epic, specific and sprawling, seemingly immemorial and urgent opus is now widely regarded as a “masterpiece of modern cinema as well as a defining work of the New Taiwan Cinema” (Godfrey Cheshire). Spanning a four-year period from 1959, this is an intimate study of a young schoolboy (Chang Chen) and his family life, as well as a tale of alienated youth set against the political, social and cultural privations of mid-century Taiwan. Both crime narrative and social drama, the film turns on the discordance and confluence of Taiwanese, Chinese and Western cultures, as found in the title’s reference to Elvis Presley’s rendition of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Largely unavailable since the mid-1990s, Yang’s masterful orchestration of plot, visual composition and experiential detail is seen here restored to its original epic length and full audio-visual scope.

35mm print courtesy of the Cineteca di Bologna. Restored in 2009 by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with Central Motion Picture Corporation and the Edward Yang Estate. Restoration funding provided by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways, Qatar Museum Authority. Scan performed at Digimax laboratories in Taipei.

November 14

7:00pm – TAIPEI STORY
Edward Yang (1985) 119 mins – PG

This bracing portrait of urban isolation and modern malaise in a rapidly changing Taipei stars filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien and singer Tsai Chin (who would later marry Yang) as the middle-class couple whose relationship slowly disintegrates against the backdrop of a city caught between its new globalised modernity and traditional values. A key early work of the New Taiwan Cinema, Yang’s second feature sharply focuses on sociological observations and is imbued with a sense of loss and impending doom set amongst the neon lights and alienating urban streetscapes of the modern city.

Courtesy of the Cineteca di Bologna.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
A City in Transition in ‘Taipei Story’ by Nick Bugeja.



9:10pm – THE TERRORIZERS

Edward Yang (1986) 109 mins – M

Yang’s third feature is his most enigmatic, metaphysical and explicitly dark film, weaving an elliptical tapestry of cryptically interconnected urban stories. Shot through with an aura of subtle menace, the film’s emphatic embrace of modernist ambiguity, startling imagery, fractured storytelling and black-as-pitch comedy presents a bracing challenge to conventional viewer sensibilities. The city of Taipei looms as an all-encompassing presence shadowing and constraining the characters. Yang subsequently admitted the film’s complex play with the real and the fictional was even a mystery to himself.

35mm print courtesy of the Taipei Film Archive.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: ‘The Terrorizers’ by James Waters.

https://vimeo.com/19073375

November 21

7:00pm – YI YI
Edward Yang (2000) 173 mins – M

Yang’s intimate epic is a bittersweet celebration of culture and life that charts the journey of a multi-generational family over the course of one year, beginning with a wedding and ending with a funeral. Each sprawling frame is imbued with a compassionate clarity that explores every character through a single, binding experience. This focus is the essence of Yang’s expansive but minutely observed final masterpiece, now widely regarded as one of the great movies of the last 20 years, a film whose profound emotional and cultural resonance brings to mind the panoramic form of Altman’s Short Cuts. It was named best film of the year by many critics including Susan Sontag and Yang received the Best Director award at Cannes. Kent Jones called it “the apotheosis of the new Taiwanese cinema”.

35mm print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
‘Yi Yi’ by Nick Bugeja.

February 6
OPENING NIGHT 2019

February 13 - February 27
FIGURATIVE LANDSCAPES AND SOCRATIC CONVERSATIONS: THE VISIONARY CINEMA OF NURI BILGE CEYLAN

March 6 - March 20
OLD, WEIRD ALBION: BRITISH SUPERNATURAL AND GOTHIC HORROR CINEMA OF THE 1950s-1970s

March 27 - April 10
“FILMS WITH A MESSAGE JUST MAKE ME LAUGH”: THE UNBLINKING GAZE OF CLAUDE CHABROL

April 17 - May 1
MORAL CRUCIBLES: THE FILMS OF ROBERT ALDRICH 

May 8 - May 22
TIME AND TIDE: YASUJIRO OZU

May 29 - June 12
DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME: THE WORLD OF MAX OPHULS

June 19 - July 3
LINES OF FLIGHT: THE EXISTENTIAL CINEMA OF LARISA SHEPITKO

July 10 - July 17
A WOMAN OF ACTION: THE KINETIC CINEMA OF KATHRYN BIGELOW

July 24
COMING TO AMERICA: ERNST LUBITSCH IN HOLLYWOOD

August 28 -September 4
ENTER LAUGHING: ELAINE MAY’S COMEDIC GENIUS

September 11 - September 25
PRAGUE: A LONGITUDINAL DOCU-FANTASIA

October 2 - October 16
THE WHISPER OF THE GENERATIONS: ERMANNO OLMI’S REALIST CINEMA

October 23 - November 6
ENDURING MODERNITY: THE TRANSCONTINENTAL CAREER OF LOUISE BROOKS

November 13 - November 20
SHIFTING SHELTER: LANDSCAPE AND BELONGING IN THE FILMS OF IVAN SEN

November 27
POETIC PORTRAITS AND MERCURIAL MEMOIRS: THE BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARIES OF LYNN-MAREE MILBURN

December 4 - December 18
TERENCE DAVIES: THE ART OF MEMORY