The San Francisco Film Society in association with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco, Taiwan’s Government Information Office and Taiwan’s Tourism Board presents Taiwan Film Days, October 22 – 24 at Viz Cinema at the New People center, 1746 Post Street. This exciting showcase highlights the best of contemporary Taiwanese cinema and provides Bay Area audiences with unique opportunities to view bold new Taiwanese films and engage with visionary filmmakers.
“We’ve enjoyed our renewed partnership with our friends at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and appreciate their help finding the most compelling and urgent contemporary Taiwanese cinema,” said Film Society Programmer Sean Uyehara. “This year’s program provides a cogent picture of the current state of Taiwanese filmmaking, and is heartening indeed.”
The San Francisco Film Society has long been a proponent of Taiwanese cinema and has played a pioneering role in introducing it to Bay Area audiences through the San Francisco International Film Festival, which has shown over 40 Taiwanese films over the years. The works of the leading figures — Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Ming-liang and Edward Yang — have been featured, and prominent actor Lee Kang-sheng was a Festival guest in 1998. In January 1999 the Film Society partnered with the Asian Art Museum to present the unique retrospective An Unfolding Horizon: the Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien. The championing of Taiwanese national cinema was augmented last year by the introduction of Taiwan Film Days to the Film Society’s Fall Season.
From Taiwanese opening weekend box office champ Monga to Let’s Fall in Love, a documentary that examines the foibles of contemporary matchmaking, to a return engagement of the experimental black-and-white David-versus-Goliath drama No Puedo Vivir sin Ti, Taiwan Film Days 2010 showcases the breadth of style and subject of this vibrant filmmaking industry, while providing a snapshot of modern Taiwanese society and culture.
For complete program information, visit: sffs.org/Screenings-and-Events
Friday, October 22
6:15 pm Monga
Niu Doze (Báng kah 2010)
From director Niu Doze (What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?, Taiwan Film Days 2009) comes an uncompromising gangster epic that fictionalizes the real-life ascension of organized crime in Taipei’s rough-and-tumble Wanhua district. Set in the 1980s against a backdrop of brothels and gratuitous violence, Monga traces the lives of a group of teenagers whose close bonds threaten to be torn asunder by the pernicious demands of gangster life. Beautifully shot in widescreen with intense, saturated color, Doze’s work presents a slick and dangerous Taipei underworld whose landscape is characterized by the misguided desires of its young male protagonists. Monga beat out international blockbusters like Avatar at the box office during its opening week in Taiwan. Written by Niu Doze, Tin Tseng-li. Photographed by Jake Pollock. With Ethan Juan, Mark Chao, Ma Ju-lung, Rhydian Vaughan. 141 min. In Mandarin and Min Nan with subtitles. Distributed by Distribution Workshop.
8:30 pm Opening Night reception with complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres at New People
9:40 pm Monga
Saturday, October 23
1:30 pm Let’s Fall in Love
Wuna Wu (2009)
Welcome to the tragicomic world of matchmaking in modern Taiwan, where 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. The leading light in the Taipei marriage market is the energetic matchmaker Chen, who specializes in nudging notoriously intransigent bachelors. One of Chen’s many clients is Wu, the maker of this documentary. While Wu waits impatiently for Mr. Right (or is it Mr. Available?), she documents couples at various stages in their coupledom post-Chen. Some are smitten with each other, some are lukewarm and the rest grapple with deep-seated emotional problems. Rife with moments of both torturing silence and absolute enigma, this thoughtful documentary poses one central question: Is love a matter of fate or just a numbers game? Photographed by Chen Maso. 90 min. In Mandarin with subtitles. Distributed by Warner Bros.
4:00 pm Seven Days in Heaven
North American Premiere
Directors in person
Essay Liu, Wang Yu-lin (Fu hou qi ri, 2009)
A dark and poetic comedy, Seven Days in Heaven centers on one woman’s experience of the death and funeral of her father. Mei, resolutely urban, makes her way back to her rural — and sometimes backward — hometown, where she and her brother endure a series of arcane and elaborate funeral rites. Their frustrations are frequently punctuated by genuine feelings of loss. Codirectors Wang Yu-lin and Essay Liu (who also wrote the screenplay) deliver a film that assumes a lighthearted approach to its otherwise severe themes of death and grief. Emotionally complex and often ironic, Seven Days in Heaven investigates the turbulent spectrum of emotions associated with the passing of a loved one and the vagaries of modern-day death with a humorous touch that is both direct and heartfelt. Written by Essay Liu. Photographed by Fu Shih-ying. With Wang Li-wen, Wu Tai-po, Chen Cha-shiang. 93 min. In Mandarin and Taiwanese with subtitles. Distributed by Magnifique Creative Media.
6:40 pm Hear Me
Cheng Fen-fen (Ting shuo, 2009)
Director Cheng Fen-fen has crafted a winning tale of budding young romance that became Taiwan’s most popular movie of 2009. A carefree and loveable young man, Tian-kuo earns money delivering meals from his family’s restaurant to a hearing-impaired swimming team. He soon develops a crush on Yang-yang, who is often present to support her deaf older sister Xiao-peng. When the two would-be lovers finally meet, Tian-kuo pretends to be deaf as he struggles to develop their burgeoning romance. Once Yang-yang begins to fall for his awkward charms, resentment grows between her and Xiao-peng as the true nature of her personal sacrifices comes to light. Overflowing with kindness, Hear Me will appeal to the young and young at heart. Written by Cheng Fen-fen. Photographed by Chin Ting-chang. With Eddie Peng, Ivy Chen, Michelle Chen. 109 min. In Mandarin with subtitles. Distributed by Trigram Films.
9:30 pm Tears
Chen Wen-tang (Yan lei, 2009)
A powerful drama about a policeman with a troubled past, Tears describes a world where guilt and revenge coexist with the possibility of redemption. Director Cheng Wen-tang’s passionate commitment to unearthing Taiwan’s repressive history sears this tale with an unmistakable moral authority. Guo — divorced, short-tempered and near retirement — seems like a pretty good bad cop. On the one hand he instructs his younger colleagues in the finer points of interrogation and torture; on the other he dedicates himself to solving the suspicious overdose of a young woman, an investigation that leads him through a morass of tea-sipping gangsters and underground collusion. Part policier, part subdued family melodrama, Cheng’s complex film balances its various elements with authority and confidence and restores one’s faith in a Taiwan where art and politics go hand in hand to craft works of urgent import and serious beauty. Written by Cheng Wen-tang, Cheng Jin-fen, Chang I-feng. Photographed by Feng Hsin-hua. With Tsai Chen-nan, Huang Jian-wei, Serena Fang, Enno Chang. 111 min. In Mandarin and Taiwanese with subtitles. Distributed by Joint Entertainment.
Sunday, October 24
2:00 pm No Puedo Vivir sin Ti
Leon Dai (Bu neng mei you ni, 2009)
Li Wu-hsiung is a poor single father working high-risk jobs aboard boats in the harbor zone, where he lives in an illegal shack with his young daughter. The two live happily together until she reaches school age, at which time he tries to enroll her in a public school only to have her removed from his care by the government. His desperation to reclaim her leads to a showdown that evolves into a worldwide media event. Based on a true story, Leon Dai’s sharp, emotional second feature — a multiple prizewinner at international festivals, including top honors at the 2009 Taipei Film Festival — comes in strikingly composed black-and-white while simultaneously exploring the grayer shades of its rich story of contemporary Taiwanese society. Written by Leon Dai, Chen Wen-pin. Photographed by Chang Hsiang-yu. With Chen Wen-pin, Chao Yo-hsuan, Lin Chih-ju. 92 min. In Mandarin, Taiwanese and Hakka with subtitles. Distributed by Luminoso Film.
4:10 pm Let’s Fall in Love see 10/23
6:40 pm Tears see 10/23
9:10 pm Seven Days in Heaven see 10/23