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Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien

Taiwan 1989 157 mins. In Mandarin, Japanese, Cantonese with subtitles

Set between the end of WWII—Japan’s withdrawal from Taiwan—and the imposition of martial law under the Kuomintang government (a proxy of mainland China) in 1949, A City of Sadness follows four brothers caught up in events that led to the February 28, 1947 incident, during which thousands of civilians were massacred by military forces. A formal tour de force, Hou’s vision of these events feels starkly personal, focusing on the interior lives of the four brothers as they navigate the complex political and social turmoil wrenching the country during this uncertain period. Winner of the Golden Lion (Best Film) at the 1989 Venice Film Festival. “An extraordinarily ambitious sociohistorical epic.”—Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly. “By presenting the tragic consequences that resulted from the mainland authorities’ ever-escalating pattern of abuse of power, A City of Sadness compassionately articulates the suppressed, silent despair of a people repeatedly victimised as they search for inclusion and cultural identification.”—Acquarello, Senses of Cinema

Genres: Drama

Appears in: Essential Cinema