Tsai Ming Liang


Tsai Ming Liang

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Today one of the great asian masters of cinema, Tsai Ming-Liang is born in 1957 in Malaisia. In 1977, he goes to Taïwan and studies at the Chinese University of Culture, where he completes a degree in theater in 1981. During his studies, he writes theater plays and brings to the stage three of them : “Instant Bean Sauce Noodle” (1981) and “A Sealed Door in the Dark” (1982) and “A closet in the room”. Each of them explores with humor the loneliness of men in the city.

Tsai Ming-Liang devolves the following years to TV productions and screenwriting. Starting 1989, he directs several films for TV, such as “The Corners of the World” and “The Kid”, which both attract attention.

It is during the shooting of “The Kid” that he meets the person who will become his “alter ego”, his recurrent and cult model : Lee Kang-Sheng. Without any training in acting, Lee Kang-Sheng embodies Xiao Kang, a character who goes through all Tsai Ming-Liang films, as if we were following his life. Inspired by his own story, Tsai Ming-Liang writes his first feature “Rebels of the neon god” in 1992. The film receives the Sakura of bronze at the Festival of Tokyo and the prix de la Première Oeuvre at Nantes in 1993.

In 1994, his film “Vive l’Amour”, is a masterpiece, minimal in style yet with deep emotional intensity (the tears of the first shot became cult). He receives the Golden Lion at the Festival of Venice, the FIPRESCI price and the best director award: he gains an international recognition that will increase in the years to come.

“The River” receives in 1997 the Silver Bear at the Berlinale and the Silver Hugo at Chicago Film Festival. The film is still mentioned today by many filmmakers as an absolute reference.

In 1998, he takes part in the vast project launched by the Franco-German channel Arte around year 2000 and directs “The Hole”. The film is selected at the Festival de Cannes in Competition and receives the Fipresci Award and the silver Hugo, as well as the Best Director Award and the Best Asian Film at the International Festival of Singapour.

In 2001, “And what time is it there?” is his first incursion in France, the country of his idol François Truffaut, and the occasion of a decisive encounter with Jean Pierre Léaud. The film receives the Best Soundtrack Award at the Cannes Film Festival, (in Competition) and numerous other prizes in various festivals.

In 2002, he directs a short-film “Le pont n’est plus là”, in partnership with Le Fresnois, and his film “Goodbye Dragon Inn”, a deeply moving testimony on the closing down of a local cinema, is released in 2003. This very year, he produces the first film of his actor and muse Lee Kang-Sheng : “Missing”.

In 2002, he receives from the French government the distinction of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres.

In 2004, “The taste of the watermelon”, a musical, political and poetical comedy is acclaimed thrice at the Berlinale, Golden Bear, Alfred Bauer Award and Fipresci Award.

In 2006, “I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone” marks his first Malaysian comeback, and his fruitful encounter with Bengali actors, who illuminate the films as much as they embody the contrast and the cultural dynamism that Tsai Ming Liang takes at heart.

The film is supported by the “New Crown Hope Event” of Vienna, which is organized in the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. He is selected at the Venice International Film Festival in official competition.

In 2009, the Museum of the Louvre opens for the first time its gates to a filmmaker and chooses Tsai Ming-Liang to launch this big international initiative. The film “Visage”, with Lee Kang Sheng and Jean-Pierre Léaud is coproduced by the Museum of the Louvre and JBA Production – and selected at the Festival de Cannes in Competition. He receives the Best Locations and Best Costumes Award at the Golden Horse Festival of Taipei (Taiwan 2009) and at the 4th Asian Film Awards AFA (Hong-Kong, 2010). That year he also answers Lucca’s Festival call and directs “Madame Butterfly” for the 100th anniversary of Puccini’s birth. The film, presented at FIDMarseille and in innumerable international festivals is a free reading of the opera, for which Ming-Liang goes back to Malaisia and to his actress Pearly Chua.

Since “Madame Butterfly”, Tsai Ming-Liang follows his reflections on picture, man and space, through shorter cinematographic shapes, aiming at minimalism. In 2007, he creates “It is a Dream”, “Erotic Space”, and the series “Walker” in 2012 – 2013. “Walker – Hong Kong” was presented in closing ceremonies of Semaine de la Critique in the last Cannes Film Festival and “Diamond Sutra” in the last Venice Film Festival.

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