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Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien

Friday, November 14, 2014
7:00 p.m. The Puppetmaster
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan, 1993)

Free screening: BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students may make reservations in advance. Any remaining tickets will be available to the public beginning at 6 p.m.*

Introduction and booksigning/Richard Suchenski

In Conversation/Richard Suchenski & Guo-Juin Hong


Richard I. Suchenski is the founder and director of the Center for Moving Image Arts and assistant professor of film and electronic arts at Bard College. He organized this touring series and is the editor of Hou Hsiao-hsien (2014). Guo-Juin Hong is associate professor and director of the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University, and author of Taiwan Cinema: A Contested Nation on Screen.

(Hsimeng rensheng). The puppeteer Li Tien-lu (1909–1998) was one of Taiwan's official national treasures, and one of the perennial treasures of Hou Hsiao-hsien, who discovered and exploited the old man's acting talents in such films as Dust in the Wind, where he plays the incendiary Grandpa. In The Puppetmaster Hou achieves a masterpiece of storytelling in recreating Li Tien-lu's life, a life set against such tumultuous times as to make art both impossible and essential. Born into the fifty-year occupation by Japan, Li honed the subtleties of his classical puppet craft against the politics of censorship, just as he developed and strengthened as an artist against the everyday pressures of family and poverty that push art into the background. Li as intermittent narrator recounts the kind of personal anecdotes from which Hou naturally builds his films, sumptuous with visual detail and, here, punctuated by stunning sequences of puppet performances. This is history filmed, to quote the moniker of Li's puppet troop, "Also Like Life."

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Wu Nien-jen, Chu Tien-wen. Photographed by Mark Lee Ping-bin. With Li Tien-lu, Lim Giong, Chen Kuei-chung, Tsuo Chu-wei. (142 mins, In Mandarin, Taiwanese, Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

*Reserve tickets in advance by emailing bampfamember@berkeley.edu by Wednesday, November 12.