Good Men, Good Women: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

The films of Hou Hsiao-hsien altered Taiwanese Cinema with the use of an objective lens. Hsiao-hsien held on to the collective memory in his work in order to lend perspective and interpretation of life in Taiwan.

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Flowers of Taipei: Taiwan New Cinema (2014), which premiered at the Venice Film Festival with critical acclaim explores how Hsaio-hsien, Edward Yang, and others contributed to the New Taiwanese Cinema. The interviewees, including Hsaio-hsien, chronicle the changes in Asian cinema through imagination and joy, to shining light on the gripping dark spots in the history of Taiwan. One interviewee stated that film is memory. In turn, world cinema changed as well, which had the audience nostalgic and reminiscent of the “good old days”. Memory and reality play a big theme in the films. The audience is forced to remember the political brutality, disparity, location racism, and ultimately the truth with issues being raised on screen.

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The film, Good Men, Good Women (1995) examines Taiwan during the “White Terror” era, a thirty-eight year period when Taiwanese people lived in fear from the government. Hsiao-hsien examines the past while comparing it to the present and analyzes the affects the 228 incident and White Terror had on the identity of these Taiwanese people. Good Men, Good Women plays Saturday February 7th, at 5:30 p.m.

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Hsaiao-hsien’s rom-com, Cute Girl (1980) is a tale about a country lad falling in love with the beautiful city girl. Hsiao-hsien’s use of Hong Kong’s Kenny Bee and Taiwanese pop icon Feng Fei-fei added to the allure of the film. The “cute girl” begins to appreciate the simple life but the character twists add a few bumps along the way. Cute Girl plays Tuesday, February 17th, at 6:15 p.m.

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Millennium Mambo (2001) truly allows the audience to enter the mind of Hong Kong socialite Shu Qi as she floats around Taipei in a techno and drug fueled perpetual party. The cinematography becomes the eyes and ears of the audience. The audience becomes mesmerized with the fast paced and destructive life, along with Vicky’s powerful emotions and words. Millennium Mambo is the last film of the festival, playing March 1st at 6:30 p.m.

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Be sure to hashtag #tiff #goodmengoodwomen #novellamag if you attend the film festival, and let us know what you think! Good Men, Good Women runs until March 1st at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

All photographs are courtesy of TIFF Film Reference Library.