Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Fourth of July. Trying to collect my thoughts and finish the obit on Edward Yang for CineVue, but it's tough. My feelings are beyond sadness, because there's a feeling of desolation. I remember some of the interviews he gave after "Yi Yi" was making the festival circuit. He mentioned that there was no longer an audience for his films in Taiwan. (And, in fact, "Yi Yi" never received a theatrical release in Taiwan.) He said that "Yi Yi" would be his last film, and he was right. But in the last year, there had been signs that he might be making a new film. And so that's why this is doubly sad. But it's also a sign of the continued marginalization of "art" in the contemporary context.

Another reason it's hard for me to write is that the situation of Edward Yang was so curious. In 1984, when the AAIFF showed his first feature film (at that time, it was called "On That Day On The Beach", a rather cumbersome title which was reduced to "That Day On The Beach"), it seemed to be so... unusual. The films coming out of China were "exotic" (movies like "Yellow Earth", "Red Sorghum", "Old Well"), they were often set in the past, and they were highly pictorial. "On That Day On The Beach" wasn't like that. It was paced very languidly, and it seemed to stretch out its anecdote (about the tenuous demise of an affair) into a kind of stasis. Of course, this was the tenet of a certain stylistic modernism, and Yang's film seemed to exemplify that.

But after the AAIFF showed his second feature, "Taipei Story", it began to seem curious: why wwere his films not being taken up by other film organizations? What was wrong? I thought the films were exceptionally well-done, but what was the problem?

But none of the films from Taiwan seemed to be catching people's interest. That was ok... but the Taiwanese government opened that Taiwan Cultural Center in the Rockefeller Center area, and they were aggressively trying to promote Taiwanese culture, including films. And yet it was as if the film organizations in New York City had a block against these films, especially Yang's.

I don't know. But that changed after "A Brighter Summer Day"....


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