Anthology Film Archives

5 FILMS BY HSIN CHI/XIN QI [ONLINE ONLY - STREAMING FOR FREE!]

November 17 – November 30

ONLINE FILM SERIES – STREAMING FOR FREE!

Last December, Anthology presented an online series – “Taiwan B-Movies” – in collaboration with the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (TFAI) and the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York. That series showcased several films restored by the TFAI as part of their ambitious and vitally important efforts to preserve Taiwanese Cinema, including those that fall under the category of Taiyu Pian: Taiwanese-language films produced between 1955-81, in which the characters speak only Taiwanese (i.e., Taiwanese Minnan or Hokkien) despite their various backgrounds in the story. During the heyday of this vibrant local film industry, over 1,000 films were produced, but less than 200 have survived. Since 2014, TFAI has endeavored to restore some of these Taiwanese-language gems.

As a follow-up to “Taiwan B-Movies”, and in order to continue to celebrate the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute’s preservation efforts, we present another online series devoted to the Taiyu Pian filmmaker HSIN Chi (aka XIN Qi). Born in the Wanhua District of Taipei in 1924, HSIN moved to Japan at the start of the 1940s, where he developed an early interest in theater and cinema. When he returned to Taiwan, he was active in the theater, but in 1956 embarked on a career in filmmaking. During the next two decades he would direct or produce upwards of 90 films – including more than 50 Taiwanese Hokkien-language films – in nearly every imaginable genre: from romances and screwball comedies to crime films, thrillers, and wuxia, not to mention Taiwanese opera and even softcore pornography. Tragically, only eight of these films survive, but several continue to enjoy a cult following in Taiwan to this day.

Following the decline of Taiyu Pian cinema in Taiwan in the late 1960s, HSIN turned to making Mandarin-language films, including in Hong Kong, before transitioning into a long and productive career in the television industry. He retired from filmmaking in the 1990s and turned his attention to film preservation and archiving. In 2000, HSIN was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Horse Awards. His work remains little known here in the U.S., however – a situation we hope to remedy with this online film series.

This online film series has been organized in collaboration with the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (TFAI), and is presented with generous support from the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.

      

Special thanks to Jessica HU & Kanglan CHIN (Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York) and RayJay LEE (TFAI).

All of the films in the series are available to stream free of charge, at any time between November 17-30! Click here to access the Vimeo Showcase for the series, or click on the individual film titles below.

Click here for further resources relating to HSIN Chi, including two newly translated articles on his work, as well as special pre-recorded video introductions from the Taiwanese film scholars Chun-chi WANG, Chih-heng SU, and Wan-jui WANG.

Unless otherwise noted, the film descriptions below are courtesy of the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute.

THE BRIDE WHO HAS RETURNED FROM HELL / 地獄新娘 / 辛奇
1965, 117 min, 35mm-to-digital
BEI Sui-mi becomes the new tutor for the WANG family in a bid to secretly investigate the death of her sister. Meanwhile she tries to mend the father-daughter relationship between her niece and Mr. WANG. After a series of hauntings occur in the house, Sui-mi discovers her sister’s diary and comes nearer to the truth of her death. Gradually, Sui-mi and Mr. WANG fall in love, but on the eve of their wedding, the killer materializes. An adaptation of the Gothic romance “Mistress of Mellyn”, THE BRIDE WHO HAS RETURNED FROM HELL is aesthetically expressionistic, while the creative mise-en-scène showcases the quality of Taiwanese-language productions. Amid modern elements such as suspense and murder, the story reflects a feudal context. Though superficially westernized, at heart it is essentially traditional, creating subtle but fascinating contradictions between the portrayal of modern women and the patriarchy which shadows them.

ENCOUNTER AT THE STATION / 難忘的車站 / 辛奇
1965, 112 min, 35mm-to-digital
Tshui-giok’s stepfather sells her to a club to pay off his debt. But when her boyfriend, Kok-liong, learns about it he helps her escape and plans to marry her. However, Kok-liong’s mother disapproves and arranges for him to marry a wealthy girl. Years later, when Kok-liong and Tshui-giok meet again, their feelings are rekindled. ENCOUNTER AT THE STATION is adapted from CHIN Hsing-chi’s popular novel “Leng Nuan Jen Chien”, though its wartime atmosphere and female protagonist’s personal struggles are removed to focus on the love triangle in order to render it a family melodrama. Told from an omniscient point of view, the film not only boasts a well-executed narrative, a gripping storyline, and strong emotions, but also reshapes characters to adapt to its form of visual storytelling, placing it at the pinnacle of the Taiwanese-language family melodrama genre.

FOOLISH BRIDE, NAIVE BRIDEGROOM / 三八新娘憨子婿 / 辛奇
1967, 101 min, 35mm-to-digital
“Bun-tik is a naïve, dopey young man, who is aggressively chased by the women in his town, who are all oddly besotted with him. He is closely guarded by his father, A-kau, who throws water at the girls to discourage them from courting Bun-tik. Bun-tik is only interested in one girl, the intrepid and mischievous Kui-ki, a modern woman in the context of 1960s Taiwan, when conservative family values and traditional beliefs governed much of societal activity. One day, Bun-tik’s father and Kui-ki’s mother meet to discuss the possibility of the two young lovers getting married, but discover that they themselves were lovers 30 years ago. Both feeling scorned and blaming each other for the past, they oppose the marriage. Disregarding their parents’ wishes and tradition in general, Kui-ki and Bun-tik decide to elope. Eventually, their parents come to forgive them and accept the union, opening the door once again to their own past as well.” –TAIWAN FILM FESTIVAL EDINBURGH

DANGEROUS YOUTH / 危險的青春 / 辛奇
1969, 95 min, 35mm-to-digital
Khue-guan, a deliveryman living in a cheap apartment, dreams of making it big one day. He happens upon a teenage runaway, Tsing-bi, and entices her to work in a nightclub to make money for him. Meanwhile, the nightclub hostess, Giok-sian, pays for Khue-guan’s company but keeps a no-strings-attached relationship. When Tsing-bi becomes pregnant with Khue-guan’s child, she asks him to marry her but is coldly rejected. Khue-guan proposes to Giok-sian only to be sneered at. In the choice between love and money, Khue-guan must decide what he wants. Through the relationships between a prostitute, a pimp, and a procuress, the film presents a vision of capitalist society in moral decay.

“The stark, dark social realism of this film is rendered through a modernist, even avant-garde form, reminiscent of the French New Wave or early Nagisa Oshima (in particular CRUEL STORY OF YOUTH, 1960). […] DANGEROUS YOUTH remains a classic of Taiwanese cinema.”

THE RICE DUMPLING VENDORS / 燒肉粽 / 辛奇
1969, 84 min, 35mm-to-digital
Tsi-bing is living a wealthy and successful life. However, when he is manipulated by his mistress into believing that his wife is having an affair, he throws her out. When his mistress vanishes with all his money, Tsi-bing is forced to relocate to a makeshift home with his three children, who take on various jobs, such as selling rice dumplings, to make ends meet. Will this unfortunate family be reunited one day? The story centers on a man who loses his social and economic status but manages to regain his place in his family through sacrifices, an experience usually assigned to the female protagonists of melodramas. Unlike the prevalent female-centric melodramas of the time, this male-centric narrative was recognized as part of a subgenre of Taiwanese-language melodrama. The depiction of a powerful male figure losing his status before eventually turning the tide, and a woman who is able to support herself after leaving home, both suggest the changing attitudes of the late 1960s.

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