Masterclass with Taiwanese Director Hou Hsiao-Hsien and screenwriter Chu Tien-Wen

Screen Training Ireland is delighted to support a masterclass with Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien and screenwriter Chu Tien-Wen in association with CLFFI (Chinese-language Film Festival Ireland) and the Irish Film Institute (IFI).

The inaugural Chinese-language Film Festival Ireland debuts this year with Made in Taiwan at the Irish Film Institute, highlighting the work of master filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien and his longtime collaborator, screenwriter Chu Tien-Wen. The festival will feature rarely screened award-winning films by the internationally acclaimed Taiwanese master director, as well as an exclusive masterclass and post-screening Q&As’. The Made in Taiwan film festival runs from 11th – 14th May. Tickets are on sale now at

Commenting on the festival’s slate, Programme Director Marie-Pierre Richard said, “Hou Hsiao-Hsien has been instrumental in bringing East Asian cinema to the world stage. His subjects are intimate and personal, but his films speak to a universal, timeless human experience. We are grateful he and Chu Tien-Wen have generously accepted our invitation to visit Ireland and launch this festival.”

Pivotal to this festival is a masterclass with Mr. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, a key figure in Taiwan’s New Wave Cinema of the 1980s and widely recognised as one of the most important living filmmakers; and his long time collaborator, screenwriter and novelist Ms. Chu Tien-Wen. This is their first visit to Ireland and a rare opportunity for an Irish audience to have first-hand insights into the creative process at play in the making of complex and stunning films such as A CITY OF SADNESS (1989) and THE ASSASSIN (2015), for which Hou won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015.

The masterclass will allow an Irish audience special insights into the work, techniques, influences, and extraordinary career of Taiwanese master director, Hou Hsiao-Hsien and the working relationship between Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Ms. Chu Tien-Wen. It offers a unique chance to hear the stories behind the screen and to understand the magic of films such as A CITY OF SADNESS and THE ASSASSIN. During the masterclass the moderator, Professor Chris Berry, an expert in Chinese-language cinemas based in King’s College London, will take the audience through an interactive session to trace the development of the careers of both participants using clips from the films on which they have collaborated, and from their influences.

Regarded as the founding father of the 1980s Taiwanese New Wave movement, Hou’s long list of international accolades include the Cannes Best Director Award (2015), the Leopard of Honour (2007), Cannes Jury Prize (1993), the Golden Lion (1989), and his acclaimed oeuvre has earned him superlative praise such as ‘director of the decade’ (Film Comment), and ‘one of the three directors most crucial to the future of cinema’ (New York Film Festival critics’ poll). The New Yorker magazine has called his movies, ‘masterworks that helped to shift the world cinema’s center of gravity toward East Asia’ (New Yorker magazine)’ and his film THE PUPPET MASTER was hailed as one of the ‘the greatest films ever made’ by the British Film Institute. Hou was also the subject of the 1997 documentary HHH, by French director Olivier Assayas (PERSONAL SHOPPER, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA).

The masterclass will feature discussions of the four films spanning Hou and Chu’s careers to be screened during the festival.

A TIME TO LIVE, A TIME TO DIE is Hou’s semi-autobiographical film which looks at life and death, echoes the story of his experiences of growing up in rural Taiwan after his family relocate from mainland China.

THE BOYS FROM FENGKUEI is Hou’s fourth feature film and one of the breakthrough works of the Taiwanese New Wave follows Ah-Ching and his friends who have just finished school, on their journey away from their island fishing village to the city of Kaohsiung, where they face the harsh realities of the big city and of growing up.

A CITY OF SADNESS is Part 1 of Hou’s trilogy on Taiwanese history. This film chronicles the story of the Lin brothers during a complex and turbulent period beginning in 1945 with the fall of the Japanese Empire, moving through the establishment of martial law, to the secession of Taiwan from mainland China in 1949.

THE ASSASSIN is Hou’s most recent film. Set in 9th century China during the last years of the Tang Dynasty, it centres on the invincible Nie Yinniang, an assassin tasked with killing corrupt officials by her master, Jiaxin, the nun who raised her from the age of ten. Shot in glorious 35mm in Taiwan, Japan, China and Inner Mongolia, at locations that have changed little in decades, the film, the biggest of Hou’s career, is ravishing and inventive.

Chu Tien-Wen is one of Taiwan’s most prominent novelists and playwright. She was born to probably the most prestigious literary family in contemporary Taiwan. She is the daughter of Chu Hsi-Ning and the older sister of Chu Tien-Hsin. Some of her notable novels are “Fin-de-Siècle Splendour” (1990), and “Notes of a Desolate Man” (1994) (an acclaimed novel about homosexuality, AIDS and the city of Taipei), and “Witch Words” (2008). She wrote many of the scripts for Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Her screenwriting credits include TAIPEI STORY, THE PUPPET MASTER, GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE, MILLENNIUM MAMBO, A CITY OF SADNESS, THE ASSASSIN and many more.

Chu was named the winner of the North American 2015 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature (awarded by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for US-China Issues in the United States) for her novel “Fin-de-Siècle Splendour”, making her the first female writer to win the award. Peter Kurth of “The New York Times Book Review” says of Chu that ‘a strong and perceptive voice now arises from Taiwan’. 

Chu Tien-Wen began her career in the mid-1970s, with whimsical and sentimental pieces that led critics to dub her a latter day acolyte of Eileen Chang. “Fin-de-Siècle Splendour” was her breakthrough work, trading romanticism for decadence, and crafting a full-blown, mature style that melds classical grace with street slang, and bears the imprints of Taiwan’s fraught linguistic past. According to Margaret Hillenbrand of the Faculty of Oriental Studies in Oxford “Chu Tien-Wen is a multi-faceted cultural figure: a novelist, screenwriter, and essayist who excels at each of those different forms” (from Hillenbrand’s nomination of Ms. Chu for the Newman Prize, accessed at Chu has been a central figure in Taiwan’s New Wave Cinema movement in the 1980s and has won several Golden Horse awards for her screenplays, including one in 1995 for her screenplay for GOOD MEN GOOD WOMEN, directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien. She has also received the best script award at both Venice and Tokyo Film Festivals. She was awarded the Golden Horse Film award for best original screenplay (with Hou) for A TIME TO LIVE, A TIME TO DIE (1985).

The showing of clips from both the films of Hou and Chu will illustrate the creative process at play in the making of the artistic, complex and stunning films such as A CITY OF SADNESS and THE ASSASSIN. Further, clips will be shown from films influencing the work of Hou, and this gives the audience a chance to see how the process of filmmaking is influenced by diverse sources.

For further information and to apply for the masterclass please click here.

Location: Irish Film Institute, 6 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin D02 PD85

Date: Saturday 13 May 2017

Time: 12:00 to 14:00

Tickets: €20/€15 concession/€10 students

Book tickets:

© Images courtesy of Park Circus / Studiocanal

Press Contact

For more information, interview requests, and images contact Yvonne Kennedy ( at the CLFFI on (m) 086-081-0421, Stephen Boylan ( at the IFI on 01 6129448, or Criona Sexton on (m) 086-989-1018 ( ) at Screen Training Ireland