Austin Asian American Film Festival presents Reality in Long Shots: A Hou Hsiao-hsien Retrospective
The Austin Asian American Film Festival and Austin Film Society will present “Reality in Long Shots,” a retrospective of pioneering Taiwanese New Wave director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films. Special guest Peggy Chiao, a producer, critic, and current professor of Creative Filmmaking at the Taipei National University of the Arts, will be in attendance on closing night to introduce A City of Sadness and participate in a moderated discussion after the film.
The featured films will include:
- September 8: The Boys From Fengkuei - A group of rebellious teenage boys leaves their remote island village for the bustling port city of Kaohsiung, where they contend with scam artists, unrequited love, and the rigors of life on their own. Hou Hsiao-hsien’s breakthrough feature set a number of milestones, including his first collaboration with renowned writer Chu Tien-wen, whose screenplay drew inspiration from Hou’s own adolescence.
- September 11: The Time To Live And The Time To Die - Shot in the rural Taiwanese environs of his youth, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s most directly autobiographical film recounts his experiences as the son of exiles from mainland China. Growing up in the shadow of an ailing, distant father and the even more distant homeland he last saw as an infant, “Ah-ha” matures into a disgruntled adolescent, confronted by the impending responsibilities of adulthood.
- September 15: Goodbye South, Goodbye - Low-level hoodlum Kao commutes between the mean streets of Taipei and the quiet towns of southern Taiwan, filling his days with gambling, cooking, and dubious get-rich-quick schemes. He dreams of striking it big with a nightclub in Shanghai, but his lofty aspirations are weighed down by bad luck and a hotheaded protégé. This unusual take on the gangster movie has faint echoes of Scorsese, but Hou’s absurdist and melancholic vision is ultimately all his own.
- September 18: Millennium Mambo - Vicky finds relief in the bright lights and designer drugs of the Taipei club scene, then returns to the cluttered apartment she shares with her abusive, good-for-nothing boyfriend Hao-hao. A hard-edged but sensitive gangster holds out the possibility of a more lasting escape, but Vicky must first break free of the inertia confining her.
- September 22: Flowers of Shanghai - Tony Leung Chiu-wai stars as a Cantonese civil servant and devoted patron of “flower houses”—the upscale brothels of late 19th-century Shanghai. His affections drift from the possessive, world-weary Crimson to her younger rival Jasmin, while the plot branches out to the goings-on at two other houses. Pushing his long-take aesthetic to stunning extremes, Hou Hsiao-hsien uses just 37 shots to envelop viewers in a cloistered, candlelit world gone by, creating one of the most achingly beautiful films ever made.
- September 29: City of Sadness - Hou Hsiao-hsien closed out the ’80s with one of his most acclaimed works, toplined by future superstar Tony Leung Chiu-wai. Still undistributed in the U.S., this movie was a sensation in Taiwan for its frank depiction of the post-World War II era, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government ended fifty years of Japanese rule and placed the island under a brutal martial-law regime. But for all its ambition, the film remains touchingly intimate, using the story of a single family to explore history through means both formally and narratively audacious.