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The Assassin Hou Hsiao-hsien (Nie Yinniang, Taiwan 2015)

The San Francisco Film Society will present the 2015 Taiwan Film Days, from October 12 to 13, showcasing Taiwanese cinema to Bay Area audiences.  This year’s 6th edition of Taiwan Film Days features a very special spotlight on master filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien, who received the Best Director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is expected to attend the series kickoff event.

Taiwan Film Days kicks off with a special early look at Hou Hsiao-hsien’s latest film The Assassin, then continues with the documentary Flowers of Taipei: Taiwan New Cinema, which delves into the history and legacy of the Taiwanese New Cinema movement, and wraps up with a newly restored version of Hou’s timeless classic The Boys from Fengkuei.

The Assassin
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Nie Yinniang, Taiwan 2015)
To open the sixth installment of Taiwan Film Days, the series presents one of the most heralded films of 2015 — winner of the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival — master filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin. Set in ninth-century China, the film centers on Nie Yinniang (played by a smoldering Shu Qi) a female killer appointed to slay corrupt government officials by her master, Jiaxin, a nun who raised her from the age of ten. When Yinniang displays mercy by failing to kill during her duties, Jiaxing punishes her with a ruthless assignment designed to test Yinniang’s resolve. Written by Hou Hsiao-hsien, Chu Tien-wen, Hsieh Hai-meng, Zhong Acheng. Cinematography by Mark Lee Ping Bing. With Shu Qi, Chang Chen, Zhou Yun. 105 min. In Mandarin with subtitles.

Flowers of Taipei: Taiwan New Cinema
Chinlin Hsieh (Guangyin de gushi: Taiwan xin dianying, Taiwan 2014)
The Taiwanese New Cinema movement of the 1980s and ’90s captured the imaginations of audiences and filmmakers worldwide. This comprehensive documentary features interviews with leading critics, curators and filmmakers mixed with glorious archival clips from some of the most beloved and inspiring films of the era. Pitch perfect, Flowers of Taipei is an ideal introduction to and celebration of one of the most vital film movements of our time. Cinematography by Olivier Marceny. 109 min. In Mandarin and English with subtitles. Print provided by Ablaze Image.

The Boys from Fengkuei
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Fengkuei-lai-te-jen, Taiwan 1983)
Hou Hsiao-hsien’s beautiful fourth feature-length film follows three bored teenagers who move from the small island of Fengkuei to the port of Kaohsiung. Elegantly recalling the excitement, confusion, anxiety and directionless possibilities of youth in transition to adulthood, the film reveals director Hou in a transition of his own to a canny naturalism that will mark his films for a decade. Restored at the Cinémathèque Royal de Belgique in collaboration with Hou Hsiao-Hsien and the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.Written by Chu Tien-wen. Cinematography by Ch’en K’un-hou. With Doze Niu, To Tsung-hua, Lin Hsiu-ling. 100 min. Print provided by Cinematek Belgium.

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