Filmmaker Tsai is not yet done after his Venice victory

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Oct 04, 2013 - Page 5

Winning the Venice Film Festival’s grand jury prize and five nominations at this year’s Golden Horse Awards seems to have returned a smile to the face of Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮), who hinted on Wednesday that he is not done with filmmaking.

“Making feature films is very tiring ... I hope my life is not so tiring. But I won’t stop creating,” the Malaysian-born director said at an event in Taipei to celebrate his victory at the Venice Film Festival last month with his film Stray Dogs (郊遊).

Tsai was responding to a question of whether Stray Dogs would be his last film, which is what he announced at the Italian festival. The 55-year-old said he is currently content with his life, as he is now making films for himself, instead of for his audience. He said he has never been happier than when making an ongoing short film series that he started two years ago featuring actor Lee Kang-sheng (李康生).

Tsai said the filmmaking process is spontaneous and unscripted.

“I will keep this attitude and if after 10 years I start making feature films again, I might not even write a script,” he said.

Tsai, who has refused to make commercial films, has long expressed frustration over popular tastes. After years of struggling at the box office, he said he is now trying something new — cooperating with museums and art galleries to screen his films — instead of relying solely on movie theaters.

In addition to Taiwan, Tsai said museums in China and Hong Kong have expressed interest in screening his films. Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) on Wednesday presented Tsai with an award of NT$2.5 million (US$84,900) for his Venice victory and said her ministry will discuss the possibility of screening Tsai’s films at the museums and galleries under its administration.

Stray Dogs stars Lee as a father struggling to survive with his children on the streets of Taipei. It maintains the slow pace that often typifies Tsai’s work, including a 12-minute scene showing Lee eating rotten vegetables.