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October 19, 2004

An Evening with Tsai Ming-liang

Perhaps the most idiosyncratic of the filmmakers to emerge from the various new Asian cinemas of the mid-1990s, Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang has found significant critical acclaim for his spare, postmodern allegories of contemporary life. His work has drawn comparison to the existential films of Antonioni and Bresson on the one hand, and to the urban comedies of Jacques Tati on the other. His recurrent subjects are the human condition, the solitary nature of individual lives, the rituals that engender survival, and the restorative powers of love.

Special thanks to Shujen Wang and Giuliana Bruno.


Director Tsai Ming-liang in Person

October 19 (Tuesday) 7 pm
Special Event - $12 Regular Admission, $10 Students, Harvard Faculty and Staff, Senior Citizens

Goodbye Dragon Inn (Bu San)

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang
Taiwan, 2003, color, 82 min.
With Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Miao Tien
Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitles

Tsai's newest feature expands the definition of cinéphilia to encompass the act of cinemagoing itself: Goodbye Dragon Inn is an act of tribute to the film medium, to cinematic exhibition spaces, and to the many activities of the theatergoer, of which film spectatorship is just one. As King Hu's Dragon Gate Inn (1966) plays on the night of a Taipei theater's closing, a series of nearly dialogue-free encounters plays out among the audience and the staff of the theater. Tsai's film and Dragon Gate Inn are subtly intertwined: Tsai takes some editing cues from the action and soundtrack of the film onscreen, and dialogue from the screen occasionally seems to be commenting on the action in the theater. Actors from Dragon Gate Inn, now nearly 40 years older, appear among the audience, the meaning of their presence uncertain. What emerges is an affectionate, nuanced look at the act of cinema-going, the culmination of Tsai's recent investigations into the presence that popular media has in our lives.

This screening is co-presented with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston and Emerson College.

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The Skywalk Is Gone (Tien Chiao Bu Jien Le)

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang
Taiwan, 2003, color, 25 min.
With Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Miao Tien
Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitles

This small-scale urban story takes up where What Time Is It There? left off - as the Parisian traveler from the earlier film returns to Taipei and searches for the skywalk where she had purchased her watch from the grieving vendor. It is no longer there. She is forced to cross the busy city street instead, a metaphor for the disconnectedness of contemporary urban life. The absent skywalk is a symbol both for the longing of the characters and a figurative bridge between their first story and what promises to be director Tsai's next feature.

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