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Winds of Asia “Juliets” Interview with Hou Chi-jan (Director) 10/26

Winds of Asia “Juliets” Interview with Hou Chi-jan (Director) 10/26

Ahead of the screening to open the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, “Juliets,” an omnibus film consisting of three stories, had its world premiere at TIFF. Chen Yu-hsun of “Tropical Fish” (1995) and “Love Go Go” (1997) made a comeback to film direction after 13 years, which added to the film’s high profile. Here is director Hou Chi-jan, an up-and-coming director of the first story, “Juliet’s Choice.”
©2010 TIFF

---I believe the audience was looking forward to seeing the “return of Chen Yu-hsun” more than anything in “Juliets,” but the first story you directed exceeded their expectations. I heard that this film is one of Ang Lee and his brother Lee Kang’s project to assist young Taiwanese film directors. Please tell us a little more about the project.

It was in 2007, there was a plan where Ang Lee would invite script writers from Hollywood and hold a workshop for young Taiwanese film directors. The idea was to complete 6 short scripts for filming at some point later on. However, due to some changes, the workshop did not materialise. But Lee Kang felt sorry about it, chose 3 scripts out of 6 which had been submitted to make them into films as an omnibus film. No common theme was set for the three scripts and it had a different title at the beginning, and it was only after the common motif of “Romeo and Juliet” was decided that the title was specified as “Juliet.”

---“Juliet’s Choice,” the first story of “Juliets” is a tragic love story which takes place in the 1970s in Taiwan. You are too young to have experienced that period, but why did you choose the 1970s?

I was always interested in Taiwan in the 1970s. I did not experience it myself, but I did my research about that period and I got really attracted to the atmosphere of the time. Taiwan was still under martial law but things were beginning to loosen up compared to the period of White Terror in the 1950s to 1960s. Various cultural activities started to emerge, information control was easing and the atmosphere of society as a whole was peaceful. Compared to the growth of a child, Taiwan was growing up to become an adult in the 1970s.

--- Talking about the 1970s, it was from the end of the 1970s when many crime films were made, which provided motifs for your “Taiwan Black Movies” screened at the TIFF in 2005.

Indeed. I am definitely interested in the 1970s, but outside of that particular era, too, I would like to include various events that represent the time in my films as they provide the background. My other feature film, “One Day” (2010), for example, is a love story of a young couple in modern Taiwan. Couples in Taiwan today all face the hurdle of “national service,” and this is a significant element in the film.

---Tell us about the casting of “Juliets.” Vivian Hsu’s performance has been very well received. Why did you choose her?

Vivian Hsu is regarded as innocent and lovely in both Taiwan and Japan. But in fact she has a strong will as well as being deep and complicated. I wanted to shed light on this side of her which is not given enough attention.

---That was a great success. Vivian was brilliant, but also it was perfect to have Wang Po Chieh, who has attracted attention for “Winds of September” (2008) and “Bodyguards and Assassins” (2009).

Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” was older than Romeo. That is why I picked the young Wang Po Chieh. The age difference between the two is 15 years, and it worked out very well.

(Interviewed by Ryoichi Sugiyama)

©Khan Entertainment Co., LTD.

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KEIRIN.JPThe 23rd Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
22nd Tokyo International Film Festival(2009)