On Thursday, 6 September 2018, Kino Lumière in Bratislava screens the first of the eleven films included in the Programme Cycle “Taiwanese Season“ that brings Taiwanese films spanning from the 1960s till today. The screenings will include introductions and are scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6.15 PM, with the last film programmed for 18 October.

“Taiwanese cinema offers many works by recognized film-makers as well as artistically influential films, many of which are not known to Slovak audience,” says Kristína Aschenbrennerová of the Slovak Film Institute, Curator of Taiwanese Season. “Our intention is to present Taiwanese films as a part of Taiwanese cultural identity, as well as an integral part of the popular entertainment. That is also why the line-up of Taiwanese Season spreads over different decades and genres and lists art house films, social realist ʻblack filmsʻ and wuxia films alongside romantic films or socially critical films from the 1960s until today.”
Jill Chen, Head of Department of International Promotion of Taiwan Film Institute adds, “the programme includes seven Taiwanese classic films, as well as important films from various decades, Taiwanese-language films, social-realistic (“black“) films, adaptation of Chiung Yao novel, and martial arts films. They present an integral part of the Taiwanese film history, carry important historical memories and reflect on the popular culture of different ages.“

The Programme will open with fiction feature debut of the documentarian Huang Hsin-Yao “The Great Buddha+” (2017), “a black comedy, as well as a tribute of sorts to Hitchcock’s Rear Window,” as Aschenbrennerová introduces it. The stars of the film are a bronze statue of the Buddha, Pickle, the night watchman in the factory where it’s being made, and Belly Button, a rubbish collector and casual worker. Their miserable routine is interrupted when their TV starts acting up. They find a suitable replacement in dashboard camera recordings from the factory owner’s car, where you see what’s happening in front of the car, but hear what’s happening on the inside. “Earning prizes including five Golden Horse Awards and the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Chinese Language Film from the Two Coasts, the film is an adaptation of the director’s short film “The Great Buddha”, released concurrently with the iPhone 6+; hence the “plus” in its name.”

September line-up includes the oldest among the selected films “The Fantasy of the Deer Warrior” (1961), which will introduce a story full of allusions to Aesop’s Fables that serve as an allegory of the tightening military regime as well as a witty commentary on human relations. The rest of this month films include “The Swordsman of All Swordsmen” (1968), that is regarded as one of Taiwan’s most representative Chinese-language wuxia films owing to its exciting action choreography that blends the “Northern School” of Chinese martial arts with Japanese bushido, as well as the philosophical questions about life injected by the protagonist’s inner struggle between obsession and letting go. Loosely following the trend of gambler films of the earl 1980s, “Eighteen” (1993) by Ho Ping reflects on local concerns employing fragmentary narrative where time and reality lose their boundaries, that according to Aschenbrennerová “somehow channels a bleaker, darker version of Wong Kar Wai’s concerned escapist style.”

The end of the month will bring a gripping and emotional adaptation of the same title of the novel by Chiung Yao “Cloud of Romance” (1977), accompanied by “Millennium Mambo” (2001) by the acclaimed director of Taiwan New Cinema Hou Hsiao-Hsien, whose “The Assassin” (2015) will screen in October.

As the closing film of the Programme, a digitally restored version of “A Touch of Zen” (1971) by King Hu, one of the most influential Taiwanese film directors was selected. The film received the Grand Prix for Technical Achievements at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival and was, in its digitally restored version, screened again in 2015 within the section Cannes Classics.

Taiwanese Season is organized by Slovak Film Institute in cooperation with Taiwan Film Institute, Ministry of Culture of ROC, Taipei Representative Office in Bratislava and Taiwan Cinema Toolkit Programme. The Entrance Fee is €3.00/€2.00; for Lumierka Card holders €1.00.

The 1/2018 issue of the magazine on film studies Kino-Ikon lists two texts dedicated to the cinema of Taiwan – Taiwanese Black Films 1979-1983 by Kristína Aschenbrennerová, and an interview with Joseph Kuo conducted by Frédéric Ambroisine, a French film journalist and expert on East Asian Cinemas. (Available in Slovak language only.)

Line-up and Schedule:
(All screenings start at 6.15 PM)

6 September 2018 (Thursday) – The Great Buddha+, d. Huang Hsin-Yao, Taiwan, 2017, 104 min.
11 September 2018 (Tuesday) – The Fantasy of the Deer Warrior, d. Chang Ying, Taiwan, 1961, 87 min.
13 September 2018 (Thursday) – The Swordsman of All Swordsmen, d. Joseph Kuo, Taiwan, 1968, 85 min.
18 September 2018 (Tuesday) – Eighteen, d. Ho Ping, Taiwan, 1993, 106 min.
25 September 2018 (Tuesday) – Cloud of Romance, d. Chen Hung-Lieh, Taiwan, 1977, 97 min.
27 September 2018 (Thursday) – Millennium Mambo, d. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Taiwan/FR, 2001, 105 min.
4 October 2018 (Thursday) – The Best Secret Agent, d. Chang Ying, Taiwan, 1964, 102 min.
9 October 2018 (Tuesday) – On the Society File of Shanghai, d. Wang Chu-Chin, Taiwan, 1981, 90 min.
11 October 2018 (Thursday) – The Challenges of the Lady Ninja, d. Lee Tso-Nam, Taiwan, 1982, 90 min.
16 October 2018 (Tuesday) – The Assassin, d. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Taiwan/CN/HK/FR, 2015, 105 min.
18 October 2018 (Thursday) – A Touch of Zen, d. King Hu, HK/Taiwan, 1971, 180 min.

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On paper I am an Italian living in London, in reality I was born and bread in a popcorn bucket. I've loved cinema since I was a little child and I’ve always had a passion and interest for Asian (especially Japanese) pop culture, food and traditions, but on the cinema side, my big, first love is Hong Kong Cinema. Then - by a sort of osmosis - I have expanded my love and appreciation to the cinematography of other Asian countries. I like action, heroic bloodshed, wu-xia, Shaw Bros (even if it’s not my specialty), Anime, and also more auteur-ish movies. Anything that is good, really, but I am allergic to rom-com (unless it’s a HK rom-com, possibly featuring Andy Lau in his 20s)"