Hou Hsiao-Hsien is a film director, screenwriter, producer and actor, and one of the leading figures in world cinema. Frequently associated with Taiwan’s New Wave cinema, his many awards include a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1989 for A City of Sadness (1989), and the Best Director award at the Cannes in 2015 for The Assassin (2015).
A graduate of the National Taiwan Academy of the Arts, Hou earned international recognition for his dramas dealing with the upheavals of Taiwanese (and Chinese) history of the past century. His storytelling is elliptical and his style marked by extreme long takes with minimal camera movement but intricate choreography of actors and space within the frame. He uses extensive improvisation to arrive at the final shape of his scenes and the low-key, naturalistic acting of his performers. Hou’s films have been awarded top prizes from Venice, Cannes, Berlin, Hawaii and other international film festivals. To date, six of his films have been nominated for the Palme d’Or (best film award) at Cannes and he was voted “Director of the Decade” in the 1990s by international film critics.
Café Lumière (2003) is Hou’s homage to Yasujirō Ozu, recalling some of the Japanese director’s principle themes: the tension between parents and children, between tradition and modernity, addressed in Hou’s typically de-centered manner. Flight of the Red Balloon (2007), shot in France, is the story of a French family as seen through the eyes of a Chinese student. The film is the first part in a series sponsored by the Musée d’Orsay, starring Juliette Binoche. Besides his work as a fiction director, Hou has also worked on animation, sound, and made numerous appearances as an actor.