PROGRAM 1 / PROGRAM 28
THURSDAY, APRIL 29 | OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION | 7:00 PM | DGA 1
|AU REVOIR TAIPEI
DATE: THURSDAY, APRIL 29
TIME: 7:00 PM
VENUE: DGA 1
VIP OPENING TICKETS
OPENING NIGHT TICKETS
AU REVOIR TAIPEI (Yi Ye Tai Bei)
(Taiwan/United States/Germany, 2010) Dir./Scr.: Arvin Chen
35mm, 85 min., color, narrative, in Mandarin w/ E.S.
AU REVOIR TAIPEI, director Arvin Chen’s charming debut feature, isn’t the first Taiwanese film to reference the City of Lights — Tsai Ming Liang’s classic WHAT TIME IS IT THERE? (2000) and Hou Hsiao Hsien’s FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON (2007), both set in Paris, are but two examples that give credence to the inference that Taiwanese folks might just be hopeless romantics. Chen himself could be forgiven for harboring such flights of fancy. A native of Foster City, CA, Chen is another in a long line of Film Festival artists who received their cinematic training at the USC School of Cinema & Television, where he produced the well-regarded MEI (Festival 2007); moving to Taipei shortly after graduation, he directed another short as part of the anthology EAT (Festival 2008). Both stories, set in the night vendor stalls and lighted takeaway shops of nocturnal Taipei, are referenced in AU REVOIR TAIPEI, a Taiwan production through and through, but one infused with a distinctly Western sensibility.
The metropolitan Taipei of director Chen’s imagination is an endless bustle of life, with busy market stalls, eateries, and late-night hangouts. This crush of humanity means little for Kai, whose girlfriend leaves in a taxi bound for the airport and a late-night flight to Paris. Brokenhearted, he spends time working at his parents’ noodle restaurant; at night, he hangs out at the local late-night bookstore poring over French-language books in an effort to learn the language. Kai can only think of Paris, where his girlfriend is. Somehow, he has to get out of Taipei, tonight, on the next plane to Paris so he can patch things up with his paramour. Opportunity comes when Brother Bao, a neighborhood gangster, offers to help Kai get to Paris in exchange for picking up a mysterious package before heading to the airport — a package that seems to be coveted by others. Soon, Kai’s family and friends become entangled in his problems. Then there’s the matter of Susie, a sweet but lonely girl he met at the bookstore, a girl who, over the course of one long night, he slowly falls in love with…
Director Chen’s feature debut may channel some of the Taiwanese masters he reveres — he interned for a time with the late and sadly missed Edward Yang (YI YI: A ONE AND A TWO) — yet AU REVOIR TAIPEI gives a sly nod to works including Martin Scorsese’s AFTER HOURS and George Lucas’ AMERICAN GRAFFITI, works similarly set at night and which provide at least an inspiration for Chen’s scenario. It’s unavoidable that the film comes in the wake of Taiwan’s all-time box office champ, Wei Te-Sheng’s CAPE NO. 7 (2008), and the local industry’s seeming preoccupation with duplicating the phenomenal success of that film (see: Tom Lin’s WINDS OF SEPTEMBER, a Festival 2009 selection; and the upcoming MONGA, a hit at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival). Yet AU REVOIR TAIPEI is clearly the work of its director: at turns observant and inquisitive, Chen is not much interested in the darker intrigues of the city as depicted in past masterworks as Tsai’s REBELS OF THE NEON GOD (Festival 1993) or Lin Cheng-sheng’s BETELNUT BEAUTY (2001). Instead, Chen is enamored with the excitement and possibilities of what can happen in the streets of an adopted hometown. To Chen, it’s not so much a case of au revoir, Taipei — rather, AU REVOIR TAIPEI might just represent the beginnings of a long and fruitful trans-Pacific career for this up-and-coming new talent.
— Abraham Ferrer
COMMUNITY CO-PRESENTER: National Association of Asian American Professionals ; Taiwanese American Professionals