In each season

Image result for a sun film taiwan

A Sun won a bunch of awards at the Golden Horse, edging out Wet Season in the Supporting Actor, Best feature film and Best director categories.

A Sun is a 150min film, which isn't that long by today's standards. But there were several points I wondered where the film is going. Not because it was dull or unbearable. Rather, it felt like watching several mini stories, sometimes of a similar character, stitched into one film, and each character intricately linked since they are mostly family, even if they are ultimately alone.

The father in the film likes to recite his driving school motto 寶握時間,掌控方向 (seize the day/ make the most of your time, take charge of your goals/direction). The film dismantles this notion. Life is messy; you are not the only driver, you may not be in the same car...some people who are great at driving opt out of the journey and you won’t ever know why; some people hang on in that journey and don't ever leave you be.  The sun shines on all alike. It warms, its light reveals, its heat can oppress. We all exist under it, even if not by choice, we can choose to appreciate its presence.

The film edged out Wet Season in the best feature/best director categories. In a way Wet Season is the opposite of this film: it is extremely controlled, it is very tightly edited, you are constantly reminded of your point of view and intrusion as audience. They are both well made, well told, deeply felt films. With Wet Season, I appreciate and admire its accomplishment. With A Sun, it had more imperfections and open-ended moments, but for the audience, I think this film will linger longer in our minds simply because of its more organic rhythm and its unresolved-ness.

I bought the ticket to A Sun without knowing much of the film. I enjoyed the Taiwanese director’s 2016 film Godspeed, a really funny road movie, as well as his work as cinematographer on the brilliant 2017 The Great Buddha. By chance this was the only other #SGIFF screening I had the time to attend.

J would have selected this film for sure. We used to select our films for the Festival individually then compare notes (maybe argue) before compromising on some 7 or 8, a number that eventually became 2 or 3 as we got busier, as I got busier. 

Before 2001, I watched most of SGIFF alone and it was great that way - taking leave from work the morning the tickets were released so that I could be first in the ticket queue, poring through the Programme and making dog-ears on pages to shortlist films, chatting with other festival “regulars” after the show, rushing from one cinema to the next....I remember the screening of Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day 1992 (?) at the Capitol most vividly. It was the opening or closing film, and given the length it came with a goodie bag of sponsored candy. It was the first film for me that balanced the sense of the epic and personal, the dramatic and quotidian moments. It was a literary film.  In 2001 I bought single tickets to some 14, 15 films but I vaguely remember J crashing and claiming he had bought tickets to the some of the same films - I flattered myself by not believing it was a coincidence.

Life never gets fully resolved, not even when it ends - because it continues for others. But what’s certain is that while we can chart our own journeys, we will all continue to occasionally get knocked off our seats/horses/cars!


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