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Taiwan Film Festival: Tsai Ming-liang - Your Face + Light with Q&A

  • Starr Cinema @ Tate London (map)

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Light captures changes in the natural light streaming through Taipei’s Zhongshan Hall. In addition to being the setting for Tsai’s feature-length film Your Face, Zhongshan Hall has national significance as it is the site where Japanese forces in Taiwan formally surrendered at the end of the Second World War, ending 51 years of Japanese occupation in Taiwan. The hall also bears personal significance for Tsai, as a site where he had worked as a student, won a filmmaking award, ran a cafe and held screenings of classic films.

Your Face is composed of thirteen portraits of citizens of Taipei. Some remain silent while others offer life stories, confessions and even a short tune. Twelve of the subjects were encountered by Tsai in the city streets, while the final subject is Lee Kang-sheng, an actor who has become a fixture of Tsai’s filmography. Tsai’s explicit use of close-up in all but one of the film’s shots was rooted in an urge to use this form of shot composition and intimacy after making a VR film, a technology which does not lend itself to close-ups or framing. Your Faceexplores what stories and experiences come through faces and duration alone, using cinematic lighting to emphasise each subject’s features. The film’s final take is a wide-shot of the space in which the portraits were filmed, serving as a kind of reverse establishing shot. The soundtrack was made by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, making this Tsai’s first scored film in twenty years.