Thursday, April 9, 2009
Although Chiang Hsiu Chiung (姜秀瓊) might be recognized for her Golden Horse Award nominated performance as the middle sister in Edward Yang's (film ) epic "A Bright Summer Day" (牯嶺街少年殺人事件), most of her works have been behind the camera.
Some of her works are with renowned directors Edward Yang (楊德昌) and Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢). She is the assistant director in Edward Yang's "Yi Yi: A One and a Two" (一一). She also worked in Hou Hsiao-hsien's films such as "Flowers of Shanghai" (海上花) and "Millennium Mambo" (千禧曼波).
With that exceptional resume, Chiang Hsiu Chiung's feature directorial debut "Artemisia" (艾草 | Taiwan 2008 | in Mandarin | 85 min.) is nothing short of excellence. The film is an affectional and beautiful portrait of a loving mother Ai-chao who struggles to cope with her family's affairs that reflect the changing society in Taiwan.
Ai-chao (艾草) means Artemisia. It's also the name of this film's protagonist — a 58-year-old Taiwanese woman. When Ai-chao was young, without her mother's approval, she married to her mainland born husband who was 20 years her senior. After her husband died 20 years ago, she raised her son and her daughter by herself. Now, not only her children have grown up, the social norm in Taiwan has also changed. It's Ai-chao's turn to face the reality in her family affairs. Despite the conflicts and gaps in generations and culture, the bond and love in a family ultimately prevail.
This deeply affectionate and heartwarming film embraces family, love, and the turbulent journey of understanding and accepting each other in a changing society.
Either coming from her own or influenced by directors Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-Hsien, the film definitely has a resemblance in the storytelling style to films by Yang and Hou. The film's engrossing story and lively characters are naturally developed and effortlessly win over our hearts.
"Artemisia" will be shown at the 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival on Sunday, Apr 26 at 9:15pm, Sunday, May 3 at 12:45pm, and Thursday, May 7 at 8:30pm at Kabuki Theater. Director Chiang Hsiu-chiung will be in person for Q&A at these screenings.