In celebration of Fortissimo Films’ 20th anniversary, MOMA will host the film series “In Focus: Fortissimo Films” November 10-21. The series will showcase 11 of of the notable Asian films the company has supported or developed.
Highlights include Wong Kar-Wai’s “Happy Together,” Tian Zhuangzhuang’s “Springtime In A Small Town,” and Zhang Yuan’s “Beijing Bastards.”
“We are honored to have the opportunity over the past years to share our vision with our friends, of a world filled with talented filmmakers coming from every corner of the globe,” said Fortissimo Films chairman Michael J. Werner in a statement. “In showing a selection of these wonderful films in conjunction with Fortissimo’s 20th anniversary, we are reminded of the ever-present commitment and passion that the film department of MOMA has and we are grateful for that,”
Full film schedule printed below:
Thursday, November 10
Seediq Bale (Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale). 2011. Taiwan. Written and directed by Wei Te-sheng. With Lin Ching-tai, Umin Boya, Ando Masanobu, Vivian Hsu Ando. MoMA presents a sneak preview of Wei Te-sheng’s historical epic, fresh from its recent world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. The film offers a unique retelling of a little-known episode from 20th-century history: between 1895 and 1945, Taiwan was a Japanese colony inhabited by both Han Chinese immigrants and the remnants of the aboriginal tribes who first settled the land. In 1930 Mouna Rudo, the leader of one of these Seediq tribes, forged a coalition with other Seediq tribal heads and plotted a rebellion against their Japanese colonial masters. Wei Tesheng’s previous film, Cape No. 7, became Taiwan’s highest-grossing film ever, thus allowing him to realize this ambitious passion project, which has been in the planning stages for a decade. In Japanese; English subtitles. 150 min. Introduced by Wei.
Friday, November 11
Fata Lai Jone (Tears of the Black Tiger). 2000. Thailand. Written and directed by Wisit Sasanatieng. With Chartchai Ngamsan, Stella Malucchi, Supakorn Kitsuwon. Inspired by classic Westerns and romantic dramas, this Thai-spiced “Spaghetti” Western, about the impossible love of a governor’s daughter for the bandit nicknamed the Black Tiger, adds a gorgeous soundtrack to the requisite shoot-outs, broken-hearted cowboys, and beautiful women. The film’s faux-hand-tinted, supersaturated palette emphasizes the nostalgic atmosphere, in a unique homage to the larger-than-life Thai Western genre. Courtesy Magnolia Pictures. In Thai; English subtitles. 104 min.
Cheun gwong tsa sit (Happy Together). 1997. Hong Kong. Written and directed by Wong Kar-wai. With Leslie Cheung Kwong-wing, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Chang Chen. Lovers who are happy together are all the same. Lovers whose relationships fall apart are all different, unique in the ways they inflict emotional torture on themselves and each other. Lai Yiu-fai and Ho Po-wing are in love when they arrive in Argentina from Hong Kong, but something goes wrong as they travel south in search of adventure. Poetic, inventive, and heartbreakingly honest, Happy Together garnered several major awards and cemented Wong Kar-wai’s status as one of contemporary cinema’s preeminent talents. Courtesy Kino Lorber. In Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish; English subtitles. 96 min.
Saturday, November 12
Guizi lai le (Devils on the Doorstep). 2000. China. Directed by Jiang Wen. Screenplay by You Fengwei, Shi Jianquan, Shu Ping, Jiang Wen. With Jiang Wen, Jiang Hongbo, Kagawa Teruyuki, Yuan Ding. To the average Chinese peasant, foreigners have long been “devils”—potentially dangerous outsiders who arrive with dubious motives and nefarious intent. That was especially true of the Japanese soldiers who invaded China in the 1930s. Despite having to give a percentage of the grain harvest to the Japanese, Ma Dasan and his neighbors in a small northern Chinese village coexist with them peacefully—until the night two prisoners are dumped on Ma Dasan’s doorstep, one a Japanese soldier, the other a Chinese collaborator. Director Jiang Wen, the most famous actor of his generation thanks to the TV series A Beijinger in New York, brings great emotional weight to the role of Ma Dasan. Courtesy Fortissimo Films. In Mandarin, Japanese; English subtitles. 140 min.
Last Life in the Universe. 2003. Thailand. Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. Screenplay by Prabda Yoon, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. Cinematography by Chris Doyle. With Asano Tadanobu, Sinitta Boonyasak, Matsushige Yutaka. This beautifully photographed film—one of several in this exhibition photographed by Doyle—illustrates Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s profound understanding of the aimless spirit and cautious dreams of Asia’s youth. The fortunes of Kenji, a suicide-obsessed Japanese man living in Bangkok, take a turn for the worse when he accidentally kills a Yakuza gang member. That same night, Noi, a Thai barmaid in the burnt-out beach town of Pattaya, accidentally kills her sister. Thrown together by this common twist of fate, Kenji and Noi find their lives inextricably linked as they hide out together, hoping to find love and redemption. Courtesy Palm Pictures. In Thai, Japanese, English; English subtitles. 112 min.
Beijing Zazhong (Beijing Bastards). 1992. China/Hong Kong. Directed by Zhang Yuan. With Cui Jian, Li Wei, Bian Jing, Wu Lala. Beijing Bastards, regarded as China’s first independent film, has been officially banned, widely boycotted, and constantly hunted down. Zhang Yuan, a leading figure of China’s so-called Sixth Generation Filmmakers, bravely took on the taboo subject of Beijing’s disaffected youth, brilliantly combining reality and fantasy in the tale of a rock idol who attempts to organize a concert and is prevented from doing so, and a young woman whose failed suicide attempt brings her into contact with different cultures within and on the edges of the city and society. Courtesy Fortissimo Films. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 95 min.
Sunday, November 13
Xiao Cheng Zhi Chun (Springtime in a Small Town). 2002. China. Directed by Tian Zhuangzhuang. With Hu Jing Fan, Wu Jun, Xin Bai Qing. In a small southern Chinese town in 1946, an unexpected visitor stirs up feelings of lust and passion within the serene walls of the Dai family’s traditional courtyard home. The young but sickly head of the household, his devoted, beautiful wife, and everyone else in the house soon begin to question the meaning of friendship, honor, and trust—all with decidedly unexpected results. Courtesy Palm Pictures. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 112 min.
Ja Zuster, Nee Zuster (Yes Nurse! No Nurse!) 2002. The Netherlands. Directed by Pieter Kramer. Screenplay by Frank Houtappels, Kramer Houtappels, based on the television series. Music by Raymund van Santen, Ferdinand Boland. With Loes Luca, Paul R. Kooij, Paul de Leeuw, Tjitske Reidinga. Kramer’s musical fantasy recounts the adventures of the residents of Nurse Klivia’s Rest Home as they valiantly and hilariously combat their nasty landlord’s efforts to evict them. We present this film in the fond memory of our friend and colleague Wouter Barendrecht, cofounder and partner of Fortissimo Films, who could recite every line. Courtesy Regent Entertainment. In Dutch; English subtitles. 104 min.
All About Lily Chou Chou. 2001. Japan. Written and directed by Shunji Iwai. With Hayato Ichihara, Shugo Oshinari, Ayumi Ito. Beginning as an interactive novel Iwai wrote and posted on the Internet, All About Lily Chou Chou perfectly captures the absurdities of growing up in Japan’s pervasive pop/cyber culture, in which Internet chat rooms, pop-idol worship, and harrowing school bullying are just part of a teenager’s daily life. Iwai’s poetic, gorgeously shot coming-of-age tale provides a disturbing look at the violence, terror, and isolation that characterize growing up in Japan today. Courtesy Fortissimo Films. In Japanese; English subtitles. 146 min.
Monday, November 14
Xizhao (Shower). 1999. China. Directed by Zhang Yang. With Zhu Xu, Pu Cun Xin, Jiang Wu. Evoking the sharp contrasts of China’s rapid transition from traditional living to ultra- modernization, Shower opens with a wondrous fantasy of a high-tech automated shower, which then slams into a vision of a traditional bathhouse—a couple thousand years old and a culture unto itself. Mistakenly believing that his father has passed away, a man returns to Beijing from the Shenzhen region, where he had been looking to be part of China’s economic boom. His father, meanwhile, has remained behind to raise a develop-mentally challenged son and manage a run-down bathhouse in dire need of upkeep. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 92 min.
Wednesday, November 16
Guizi lai le (Devils on the Doorstep). 2000. China. Courtesy Fortissimo Films. In Mandarin, Japanese; English subtitles. 140 min. (See Saturday, November 12, 2:00).
Jian Gui (The Eye). 2001. Hong Kong/Thailand. Directed by Oxide Pang, Danny Pang. Written by Oxide Pang, Danny Pang, Jo Jo Hui, Yuet Chun. With Lee Sin-jie, Lawrence Chow, So Yut Lai. A cornea transplant restores a young musician’s vision, but a series of inexplicable events leads her to believe that her restored sight involves “more than meets the eye.” Her new eyes foresee disasters that only she can stop, but will she have the courage to change the future? The American remake, starring Jessica Alba, was a dud, but the original shook audiences around the world and spawned a string of successful sequels from the Pang Brothers. Courtesy Palm Pictures. In Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, English; English subtitles. 98 min.
Thursday, November 17
Fata Lai Jone (Tears of the Black Tiger). 2000. Thailand. Courtesy Magnolia Pictures. In Thai; English subtitles. 104 min. (See Friday, November 11, 4:30).
Friday, November 18
Last Life in the Universe. 2003. Thailand. Courtesy Palm Pictures. In Thai, Japanese, English; English subtitles. 112 min. (See Saturday, November 12, 5:00).
Xizhao (Shower). 1999. China. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 92 min. (See Monday, November 14, 4:00).
Saturday, November 19
Ja Zuster, Nee Zuster (Yes Nurse! No Nurse!) 2002. The Netherlands. Courtesy Regent Entertainment. In Dutch; English subtitles. 104 min. (See Sunday, November 13, 4:00).
Jian Gui (The Eye). 2001. Hong Kong/Thailand. Courtesy Palm Pictures. In Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, English; English subtitles. 98 min. (See Wednesday, November 16, 7:00).
Cheun gwong tsa sit (Happy Together). 1997. Hong Kong. Courtesy Kino Lorber. In Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish; English subtitles. 96 min. (See Friday, November 11, 8:00).
Sunday, November 20
All About Lily Chou Chou. 2001. Japan. Courtesy Fortissimo Films. In Japanese; English subtitles. 146 min. (See Sunday, November 13, 7:00).
Seediq Bale (Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale). 2011. Taiwan. In Japanese; English subtitles. 150 min. (See Thursday, November 10, 7:00).
Monday, November 21
Beijing Zazhong (Beijing Bastards). 1992. China/Hong Kong. Courtesy Fortissimo Films. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 95 min. (See Saturday, November 12, 8:00).
Xiao Cheng Zhi Chun (Springtime in a Small Town). 2002. China. Courtesy Palm Pictures. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 112 min. (See Sunday, November 13, 1:30).