Taipei-based director Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) said on Thursday at the Venice Film Festival, where his Stray Dogs (郊遊) is in competition, that the portrayal of a family subsisting on the streets of the Taiwanese capital could well be his last film.
In the production notes, the director says he has become tired of cinema and that the mechanisms of the market, the “so-called entertainment value of films in recent years and the constant pandering to popular taste” disgust him.
“I hope this is my last film. This statement is for real, that is my hope,” Tsai, 55, said at a news conference before the official premiere of the film.
He also says in the notes that during the making of the film, he was struck by an unspecified illness that made him feel “sick enough that I felt I might die at any moment.”
Tsai said that while Stray Dogs could well be his final film, he could not predict what would happen.
“I also believe in fate and destiny, so I don’t know what awaits me,” he said in Venice.
Stray Dogs shows a father and his two children struggling to survive on what he makes from menial jobs and by getting his son and daughter to visit supermarkets to eat food samples.
The slow-paced effort is the director’s first since his Cannes competition entry, Face (臉), four years ago. His second feature film, Vive L’Amour (愛情萬歲), won the Golden Lion best picture award in Venice in 1994.
The concluding shot of Stray Dogs shows the father and a woman who has befriended the outcast family standing one behind the other almost motionless and staring at a wall in a derelict building during a rainstorm for 20 minutes.