Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee releases retrospective of best Chinese-language films
The River of Shadow and Light: Greatest Chinese-Language Films is a retrospective of the best Chinese-language films of all time. Released in both English and Chinese, the book, which was planned by the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee, details the 100 best Chinese-language films ever made. Over a year in the making, the committee invited 122 directors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers, editors, art designers, music experts, actors, critics and scholars to participate in the voting to select the 100 best Chinese-language films made. The top 20 films were A City of Sadness (1989), A Brighter Summer Day (1991), A Time to Live, A Time to Die (1985), Days of Being Wild (1990), Spring in a Small Town (1948), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Yi Yi; A One and a Two (2000), Dust in the Wind (1986), Dragon Gate Inn (1967), In the Mood for Love (2000), Butterfly Lovers (1963), The Terrorizers (1986), Love Is Elsewhere (1994), Yellow Earth (1984), Touch of Zen (1971), Comrades: Almost a Love Story (1996), A Better Tomorrow (1986), Infernal Affairs (2003), In the Heat of the Sun (1994), and Street Angel (1937). After the selection, 22 critics then carried out an analysis of each film and introduced the film's significance in cinema history. The film festival's executive committee overcame a variety of hurdles in obtaining the rights to 100 stills from the films selected. Descriptions in the book, which is printed in color, are provided in both Chinese and English. Besides local cinema buffs who have rushed to buy copies, the book has also elicited interest from quite a few foreign film festivals and film scholars who feel that the publication is a fantastic reference tool and provides a new understanding of Chinese-language motion pictures. Besides the "100 Best Films" and "50 Influential Directors" that have been selected by members of the industry, The River of Shadow and Light also includes the lists of the films and directors selected by each of the 122 persons involved in the voting process, helping to shed extra insight to interested readers. For instance, except for A City of Sadness, which was widely selected as the best Chinese-language film, director Hou Hsiao-Hsien expressed his greatest satisfaction not with A Time to Live, A Time to Die (No. 3) and Dust in the Wind (No. 7), but with an even earlier film Boys from Fengkuei (No. 22) and Goodbye South, Goodbye, which didn't make it into the Top 100 and is generally overlooked. Senior film critic Huang Jen picked a handful of films from the 1940s with which most audiences are not familiar, such as The Glory of East Asia,博愛, A Japanese Spy, and The Hualian Port. On the other hand, all of the selections of director He Wei-Ting, winner of the Golden Horse Award for Best New Director, were from 1982 or after, which points to the impact on him of films from the New Wave Movement. Best Actress winner Fanny Shu picked as her favorite film Three Times, which happened to be the film for which she won her award. Meanwhile, Feng Xiaogang selected a more masculine film, Assembly, rather than If You Are the One. Accomplished actress and director Sylvia Chang's list included A Better Tomorrow. However, she didn't select the version directed by John Woo but rather the original version filmed by Patrick Lung Kong from 1967. Hong Kong Best Actress winner Cecelia Yip picked Tsai Ming-liang's 1998 The Hole. Perhaps this was a vote to recognize Tsai, who cast her in his following feature What Time Is It There (2001). Meanwhile, all of Golden Horse Best Actor winner Huang Bo's selections from the 1970s or earlier were mainland Chinese films. Starting with Bruce Lee's Way of the Dragon (1972), Huang began to select Hong Kong movies, and then Taiwan films began to appear in his list after the 1989 A City of Sadness. This probably is a reflection of the time when he came into contact with Hong Kong and Taiwanese films. Juang Yi-Tseng, whose documentary Hand in Hand is just reaching theatres, and Yen Lan-chuan selected only one film, Happy Rice, which was the film that made both of them household names. From the lists and descriptions of the films and directors, The River of Shadow and Light displays the efforts and achievements of the best of the Chinese-language film industry. Its detail and inside perspective also shows the passion that these individuals have towards motion pictures.