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THE BUZZ: Taiwan Cinema Spotlight: Growing Up With Hou Hsiao-hsien

Hou Hsiao-hsien2

Taiwan Cinema Spotlight: Growing Up With Hou Hsiao-hsien

Article by Sherehe Hollins

Pacific Arts Movement and the Museum of Photographic Arts teamed up for the second annual “Taiwan Cinema Spotlight”, May 28th – 30th in the Joan and Irwin Jacobs theater to highlight three coming of age stories by world renowned director, Hou Hsiao-Hsien. The film series, which featured, Dust in the Wind, Daughter of the Nile and Millenium Mambo, was created to introduce films “from the vault”, made several years ago, to new audiences, and to share world cinema with San Diego audiences.

Pacific Arts Movement is one of the largest media arts organizations in the country, which showcases Asian American and Asian international cinema. Opening night of the “Taiwan Cinema Spotlight” featured a Talk Back and Q&A moderated by Brian Hu, Artistic Director of Pacific Arts Movement. Each year the cinema spotlight selects one theme and a director to feature. This year’s spotlight joined the growing movement of theaters and film organizations across the country that are recognizing and celebrating the unconventional style of storytelling that Hou Hsiao-hsien employs.

Hsiao-hsien’s cinematic style, known as “slow cinema” is characterized by long takes, still frames and minimal dialogue, which allow the viewer to become both observer and storyteller of a series of events that appear to be happening in real time. Hsiao-hsien’s films are void of elaborate action scenes and climactic conclusions that carry a clearly stated moral to the story. Instead, Hsiao-hsien’s films allow viewers an opportunity to take a traveling retrospective through their own lives and memories.

Audience members who attended opening night’s screening of Dust in the Wind commented that the film was an authentic representation of their history that brought back a sense of nostalgia. Brian Hu stated, “(Hsiao-hsien’s) filmmaking is wise, not in the Hollywood sense, but wise in the (sense of showing), this is just how we are (as people).” For Hu’s parents, the films of Hsiao-hsien, are visual representations of life as they remember it. The cinema spotlight came four days after Hsiao-hsien was awarded the director’s prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for his new film, The Assassin.

For the past ten years Hsiao-hsien has been recurrently hailed, “the world’s greatest living director”. This is owed, in part, to his willingness to remain true to his style of storytelling. Since the release of his first film in the early 1980’s, until present day, Hsiao-hsien has reevaluated Taiwanese filmmaking tactics of the 1960’s and 70’s by constructing stories that oppose traditional cinematic conventions. Hsiao-hsien’s innovative storytelling challenges the narrative of what filmmaking is “suppose to be” by illustrating how filmmaking is an experimental art form with limitless creative possibilities.

For more information on the Pacific Arts Movement visit,

For more information on the Museum of Photographic Arts visit,

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Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.

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