Doc Films is excited to announce a complete retrospective of the films of Tsai Ming-liang, presented in collaboration with the Center for East Asian Studies and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. Tsai is one of the most important and influential auteurs of the twenty-first century, and this will be the first complete presentation of his feature films to ever take place in the Chicago area. This series will feature several rare 35mm prints imported from Taiwan, as well as several of Tsai's short films that are otherwise inaccessible.
A leading filmmaker of contemporary Chinese-language cinema, Tsai Ming-Liang has produced one of the most striking cinematic oeuvres of the past quarter-century. Malaysian by birth, Taiwanese by residence, internationally funded but belonging to nowhere in particular, Tsai makes moody, pensive, deadpan films haunted by loss, failure, and broken attachments. But these films are not mere exercises in nostalgia: collaging the fragments of contemporary life into a cinema of alienation, precarity, and queerness, Tsai's slow style and serial characters iterate and interrogate all the ways attachment falls short amid the austerity, inequality, and increasing uncertainty rapidly proliferating in the margins of modernity.
Tsai's muse, Lee Kang-Sheng, stars in every film as Tsai's alter ego, Hsiao-Kang ("Little Wealth"), a transient protagonist working job after unstable job on the abject underside of the fast and flashy global economy. Wayward encounters, unorthodox intimacies, and inarticulate desires give way to austere, surreal tableaus: shots and scenes extend for many minutes, producing a cinema as intense and precise as it is diffuse and disorganized. Individually, the films flirt with formlessness, but are threaded together by recurrent motifs--phone booths, flooded apartments, mysterious ailments, glowing screens, cockroaches, mumbled meals, lost keys, spiritual possession, and watermelons. As the series progresses, the films amplify, reinforce, and refract one another, exploring the incoherence structuring our attachments to objects and others.
Written by Doc Films
A special double-feature screening featuring Director Tsai Ming-liang and Actor Lee Kang-Sheng will take place Saturday, April 25th. Details coming soon!
This series is co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago with generous support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
For more information on this series, click here.