Tsai Ming-Liang  - black and white
Stories & Ideas

Wed 25 Jan 2023

One Day at a Time: The cinema of Tsai Ming-Liang

Film Melbourne Cinémathèque Retrospective
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Melbourne Cinémathèque

Australia's longest-running film society

Notes for the 31 May – 14 June 2023 Melbourne Cinémathèque program.

Of all the notable figures of to emerge in 1990s world cinema, few have developed a corpus of work as consistently transfixing and distinctive as that of Malaysian-Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang (1957–). Born in Kuching, Sarawak, Tsai was largely raised by his cinephile grandparents, who would take him to the movies twice a day from the age of three. After studying dramatic arts in Taiwan and working in television for a decade, Tsai became one of the most important figures of the Taiwanese New Wave, set apart from his contemporaries by his identity as a gay man and for his cinematic style deliberately developed in protest against the acceleration of everyday life.

Tsai is also known for his career-long collaboration with actor Lee Kang-Sheng, a partnership inspired by that between François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud and directly acknowledged by the latter’s cameo appearance in Tsai’s pivotal What Time is it There? (2001). Lee’s face and manner is inseparable from Tsai’s cinema, with the actor appearing in all 11 of Tsai’s features, and the director’s singular style deepening in tandem with Lee’s ageing body and mind: from the youthful abandon of Rebels of the Neon God (1992) to the dysfunctions and loneliness of older age in their recent feature together, Days (2020). This season collects works from across the entirety of Tsai’s feature-film career – including Days, Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003), his celebrated tribute to filmgoing and the history of Taiwanese cinema, and the narrative “trilogy” of What Time is it There?, The Skywalk is Gone (2002) and The Wayward Cloud (2005) honouring a true cinematic artist whose films have rarely been available to Australian audiences beyond the festival circuit.


One Day at a Time: The cinema of Tsai Ming-Liang

What Time Is It There? (2001) – Wed 31 May, 7pm
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) – Wed 31 May, 9.15pm
Rebels of the Neon God (1992) – Wed 7 Jun, 7pm
The Wayward Cloud (2005) – Wed 7 Jun, 9pm
The River (1997) – Wed 14 Jun, 7pm
Days (2020) – Wed 14 Jun, 9.10pm

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Melbourne Cinémathèque

Australia's longest-running film society, Melbourne Cinémathèque screens significant works of international cinema in the medium they were created, the way they would have originally screened.

Melbourne Cinémathèque is self-administered, volunteer-run, not-for-profit and membership-driven. 

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