Chosen as the Netherlands’ entry to the Academy’s Best Foreign Language Film Award, Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman ventures into unsettling territory with an allegory about punishing the upper middle class. Meanwhile, Chinese director Wang Bing (王兵) returns with Till Madness Do Us Apart (瘋愛), his nearly four-hour-long study of the dwellers in a mental institute sealed off from the outside world.
Directors in focus
But probably no one is as extreme as legendary cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, one of the three directors highlighted at this year’s Golden Horse. Noted for cult masterpieces El Topo (1970), The Holy Mountain (1973) and Santa Sangre (1989), Jodorowsky’s filmic world feels and looks like an acid trip stuffed with eccentrics, violent and surreal images, religious provocation and mysticism.
The retrospective program also includes the director’s first film Fando y Lis, an avant-garde adaptation of Spanish writer Fernando Arrabal’s surrealist play of the same title, and The Dance of Reality, the octogenarian Chilean filmmaker’s first feature in 23 years and an ode to his upbringing that is nothing short of bizarre and grotesque.
Brontis Jodorowsky, the director’s son and the lead actor in The Dance of Reality, will attend the festival to introduce local audiences to the senior Jodorowsky’s provocative cinema.
The festival also brings attention to two up-and-coming auteurs, Abdellatif Kechiche and Asghar Farhadi, and shows their oeuvres in their entirety. Kechiche has recently become a household name on the international film circuit with Blue is the Warmest Color, a story of lesbian love and the winner of this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes. In The Secret of the Grain, the Tunisian-French director turns his lens to paint the rough life of a Tunisian immigrant family in a French port city on the Mediterranean coast.
From Oscar-winning A Separation to his latest work The Past, Iranian director Farhadi’s films often revolve around the motif of family to bring out the conflicts between individuals and society, the personal and the collective.
Chen points out that as the Golden Horse Awards is the most established film honoring Chinese-language cinema, the festival also tends to highlight movies made in Chinese-speaking regions, which take up one third of the entire lineup this year. Highlights include In the Dark, a supernatural thriller by Venice-winning director Yeo Joon-han from Malaysia, and Taiwanese genre filmmaker Lien Yi-chi’s (連奕琦) police comedy Sweet Alibis (甜蜜殺機).
Apart from film screenings, there is also an exhibition featuring rarely-shown costumes, artifacts and manuscripts used in Chinese-language classics. Items on display include the cheongsam worn by Maggie Cheung (張曼玉) in Center Stage (阮玲玉), an opium snuff bottle used by Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s (梁朝偉) character in Flowers of Shanghai (海上花) and the original manuscripts from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍) and Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (賽德克巴萊). The exhibition runs from Nov. 16 to Dec. 8 at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (松山文創園區).