FEBRUARY 6-9, 12-13, 21-22, 26-27
MARCH 1, 4-11
“The world’s greatest narrative filmmaker.”
J. HOBERMAN, VILLAGE VOICE
“The 21st century belongs to Asia, and Hou is its historian, its prophet, and its poet laureate.”
JONATHAN ROSENBAUM, CHICAGO READER
“From The Puppetmaster to Flowers of Shanghai (masterworks both), Hou was the deepest, richest, and most daring filmmaker working anywhere.”
JOHN POWERS, VOGUE
It is entirely apt that Hou Hsiao-hsien, a leading figure of Taiwan’s New Wave of the 1980s, and widely recognized as one of the most important filmmakers alive since the 1990s, would direct a film — 2003’s Café Lumière — in honour of the centenary of the great Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu. Hou’s work — an episodic, unhurried, contemplative, richly-observant, deeply-humanistic, visually-accomplished cinema of calm, still, elegant long takes; long and medium shots; and elliptical storytelling — often recalls Ozu’s, and is also often compared to traditional Chinese poetry and landscape painting. Hou’s subject matter, however, is intensely contemporary: the tensions and contradictions of a traditional culture caught up in the mad rush of modernity, and buffeted by the harsh geopolitical realities of its particular place in 20th-century history (Japanese militarism and imperialism; China’s Communist revolution and the establishment of a Nationalist government in Taiwan; American cultural domination).
“If Hou Hsiao-hsien hailed from the west, he would be more widely known as one of the world's foremost film-makers.” DEREK MALCOLM, THE GUARDIAN
A graduate of Taiwan’s National Academy of Arts, Hou was born on the Chinese mainland, to Hakka parents in Quangdong (formerly Canton) province, in 1947. His family, fleeing China’s civil war, relocated to Taiwan in 1948. The sometimes-tense relations between immigrant Mainlanders and native Taiwanese have frequently informed Hou’s films. Yet it is ordinary, everyday life that is Hou’s grandest theme — as it was Ozu’s. “I make films,” Hou has said, “because I love this world and I believe in people.”
“Essential viewing ... Audiences don’t get many opportunities to see Hou’s movies on the big screen.”
RACHEL SALTZ, NEW YORK TIMES
It has been 15 years since The Cinematheque last mounted a Hou retrospective. This new exhibition, currently touring internationally, is the most comprehensive we have ever presented. It includes all 17 features Hou has released to date — including, rarest-of-the-rare, his three earliest features, a trio of romantic comedies — as well as Hou shorts and important Hou collaborations with other filmmakers.
Acknowledgements: "Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien" is an international retrospective organized by Richard I. Suchenski (Director, Center for Moving Image Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY) in collaboration with the Taipei Cultural Center, the Taiwan Film Institute, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of China (Taiwan). The book Hou Hsiao-hsien (Vienna: Österreichisches Filmmuseum and New York: Columbia University Press, 2014) has been released in conjunction with this retrospective.