Hou Hsiao-hsien Frenzy in Berlin World Premiere of the restored version of “Daughter of the Nile”

Film
Film "Daughter of the Nile" | © Taiwan Film Institute

With a Hou Hsiao-hsien retrospective and Berlinale's world premiere of the restored version of “Daughter of the Nile”, Berlin is ready to fall in love with Hou this winter.

The international success of The Assassin (刺客聂隐娘) in 2015 not only brought Hou Hsiao-hsien's (侯孝贤) status as film auteur to new heights, but also triggered general interests in Hou's earlier films. Since the beginning of the year, a complete line-up of Hou's films since his earlier commercial works has been showcased at Zeughauskino of Deutsches Historisches Museum. Among them were Cheerful Wind (恋恋风尘) and The Green, Green Grass of Home (在那河畔青草青). Hou's frenzy was officially kicked off when its opening night screening A Time to Live, A Time to Die (童年往事) sold out instantly.

This frenzy is likely to continue with the world premiere of the restored version of Daughter of the Nile (尼罗河女儿) at the Berlinale Classics. This new digitally-restored version is based on the original 35 mm negative. The only place with a legal copy of this film is, as far as I know, the Film Archive on Qingdao Road in Taipei. Chen Huai-en (陈怀恩), the film's cinematographer, himself oversaw the entire process. The fact that this film is really difficult to get hold of even in Taiwan makes its screening even more precious.

As much as it is a transitional work into the milestone-film City of Sadness (悲情城市) in 1989, Daughter of the Nile, released in 1987, the year of the lifting of the martial law in Taiwan, depicts Taipei in a transitional time. Under Taiwan’s shifting from a dictatorship to a democracy, the city was undergoing drastic urbanisation and capitalisation. Traditional values started to clash with materialism, and sexual repression with liberation.