Cinema, Historiography, and Identities in Taiwan: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's A City of Sadness | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1059-440X
  • E-ISSN: 2049-6710



In 1989, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's A City of Sadness (beiqing chengshi) won the Golden Lion Award in Venice. As the first Taiwanese movie that received the highest recognition by a major European film festival, A City of Sadness attracted serious media attention on the island. Nevertheless, Taiwan viewers' immediate reaction towards the film was polarized. For example, Liao (1999: 85-114) was bitterly disappointed that it did not seize the historical moment of democratization of the 1980s and produce a more aggressive Taiwanese nationalist discourse. On the other hand, Qi (2000: 331-332) argued that Hou's work has become a critical social text and thus it has inspired multidimensional discourses. A City of Sadness sparked a fierce cultural debate about Taiwan's past and its relationship with mainland China that is paralleled only by the passionate deliberation triggered by nativist literature in the 1970s.


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