Taipei Film Activity – September, 2016
Taipei Film Activity – September, 2016 - Taipei Film Commission
Digital Film Restoration Brings Back the Shining Moments of Yang and Hou
(Article/Kevin Chang; translation/Master Translation Service Co., Ltd)
Owing to digital film restoration technology, the audience may once again admire the works of Taiwan's pioneer filmmakers that first brought them to the world's attention. The digitally restored version of Daughter of the Nile, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien in 1987, will be screened in theaters this September, nearly 30 years after its initial release. Furthermore, Edward Yang's world-renowned production - A Brighter Summer Day (1991) will also return to the big screen in November during the Golden Horse Film Festival in a 4-hour, digitally restored version. This is an opportunity for dedicated fans to revisit classic works of the true legends, and for new audiences to appreciate the essence that makes them shine through the test of time.
Edward Yang passed away in 2007 at a relatively young age, but his works still manage to dazzle fans in every screening even till this day. Yang's A Brighter Summer Day has influenced countless fans and filmmakers for many years, but the audience seldom get the chance to admire it on the big screen. Finally, this masterpiece will be polished for a comeback to the Golden Horse Film Festival this year. Owing to the coordination efforts of Chairperson Sylvia Chang and committed workers, Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee has obtained consent from Central Pictures Corporation and Madam Peng Kai-li (wife of Edward Yang) to showcase the digitally restored 4-hour cut of A Brighter Summer Day in the upcoming Golden Horse Film Festival. Visual design for this year's Golden Horse Film Festival is supervised by Ahi Huang, the visual designer of The Grandmaster and The Golden Era. The design was conceptualized based on Edward Yang's Golden Horse Best Picture - A Brighter Summer Day and features an image of the lead actor pointing his torch into the dark, which conveys the message: "The light of cinema: a tribute to inspirations that light our way."
Due to copyrights issues, very few of Hou Hsiao-hsien's early productions are digitally restored today. It was not until 2015 when Taiwan Film Institute collaborated with IMAGICA (Japan) on the digital restoration of Daughter of the Nile in 4K resolution that finally gave this "underrated and neglected production" (according to renowned critic J. Hoberman) a fair chance in the cinemas.
Back in 1987, Hou Hsiao-hsien had just developed his own creative style and confidence with the release of four youth-themed films, namely: The Boys from Fengkuei, A Summer At Grandpa's, A Time to Live, A Time to Die, and Dust In The Wind, and established his stature as Taiwan's prominent new director. Later, a production proposal from "Zhong Yi Recording" ended up in Hou's hands and was made into Daughter of the Nile, the masterpiece that defined Hou's career to date. Starring Diana Yang (singer) and Yang Fan, Daughter of the Nile switched from the nostalgic setting in Hou's previous productions to the dazzling night life of Taipei City.
Right after the release of Daughter of the Nile, the government of the Republic of China announced the abolishment of martial law in July 1987. Hou wasted no time and began preparation for A City of Sadness, a film set in the martial law era that later won him Leone d'Oro at the Venice Film Festival in 1989, and made him the first Taiwanese director to win an award in one of the world's three most prominent film festivals. In fact, if we look closely at one of the storylines in Daughter of the Nile where the night class teacher (played by Wu Nien-jen) was dismissed for no apparent reason, we could identify Hou's intent to explore deep into Taiwan's history and political issues in his later works. When lined up along with Hou's other works, Daughter of the Nile seems to be a small break from the director's distinctive creative style. It bore witness to how the director had attempted to accomplish the proposal handed to him, and captured the sentiment of the Taiwanese society during that time.