Fri, Apr 25, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Tsai Ming-liang continues his search for a vanishing Taipei

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Scene from The Skywalk is Gone.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TSAI MING-LIANG

The skywalk is gone; How can my two actors encounters each other? seems to be the question being asked by director Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) in the sentimental short film, The Skywalk is Gone (天橋不見了), which will be screening at Taipei's Cinemark cinema at the Living Mall (京華城喜滿客) today.

This is the first time that a 22-minute short is having an independent cinema release.

For the director's many fans, the language of Tsai's films continues lucid and rich in this short work, even though Taipei remains a cheerless place and his characters rarely have a chance of happiness. He does not, however, cater so well for those coming to his work for the first time.

In fact, Skywalk is really an extension of What Time is it There? (你那邊幾點?), which won Tsai considerable critical acclaim and was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes in 2001.

In What Time is it There? the female protagonist, Hsiang-chi (湘琪), buys a watch from street vendor Hsiao-kang (小康) on the skywalk, before going to Paris. The two develop a kind of bond because of this watch. In Skywalk, Hsiang-chi comes back to Taipei, only to find that the skywalk, where she found the watch vendor, has gone.

She hangs around Taipei Railway Station and the Mitsukoshi Department store, walking aimlessly. She comes across a woman who drags a huge suitcase. Hsiang-chi follows her. Then both are stopped by a policeman for jay walking. The woman argues that she wanted to take the skywalk, but it is no longer there.

And Hsiang-chi continues searching for Hsiao-kang, but can find no trace of him.

For director Tsai, Taipei is a rapidly changing city. Every 10 years, old memories are wiped away and places acquire a new look. Perhaps it is not too much of a coincidence that each of Tsai's films have landmarks that have since disappeared.

"It seems that many places that I shot for my films have vanished. This is kind of worrying!" said Tsai jokingly.

It's self-referential natures makes Skywalk somewhat difficult to understand, but Tsai maintains high production values and the short film is filled with precise shots, beautiful photography and good performances.

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