Part 1 of Hou’s trilogy on Taiwanese history chronicles the tale 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.
It is not long after WWII and The Lin family run the ‘Little Shanghai’ tea house in Keelung. Eldest brother Wen-Heung seeking to profit from the postwar boom lets it become a place for small-time gangster activities. Youngest brother Wen-Ching is a deaf-mute leftist photographer. Groundbreaking for broaching the long-taboo subject of the ‘2.28 incident’ – a deep scar in Taiwanese history, the film became a major international success despite its seemingly uncommercial nature.
This film is screening as part of the Made in Taiwan season of Chinese Language films, running from May 11th to 14th. More info here.