NEW YORK, November 15, 2009 - Malaysian-born, Taiwan-based filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang and his long-term collaborator, actor Lee Kang-Sheng, met with the audience at the Asia Society New York Center for the Faces of Tsai Ming-Liang film series (November 13-21, 2009). During an on-stage discussion conducted by series curator La Frances Hui, Senior Program Officer of Cultural Programs, Asia Society, the director talked about the meticulous structure underlying each of his spare screenplays. In other highlights, Lee Kang-Sheng provided insights into how actors interpret the director's scripts, and Tsai revealed that he remains in a constant state of anxiety from first drafting a script to the finish of a film.
Click on the watch video link above to see the video of Tsai Ming-Liang's remarks, or read the transcript below.
T: Tsai Ming-Liang (film director)
L : Lee Kang-Sheng (film actor)
H: La Frances Hui (interviewer)
H : A lot of your films, actually pretty much all of them, are not narrative-based. They are usually made up of a lot of scenarios, composed mostly with static camera, employing very long takes with very little dialogue. What do you actually put in your screenplays? How do you describe to your actors and people involved in the filmmaking what you are trying to do?
T : The film that's without plot the most is probably Face (2009). It is made up of little scenarios. But basically, it still has a complete structure, which requires a lot of thinking. I studied Western drama in university. I studied plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen and Brecht, and also Greek tragedies. I really like these classic drama literatures. But I am aware of my medium, which is not theater. It is film. It is something I think about very much. I am also a filmgoer. I have seen many narrative films, films with plots. Some are wonderful and I like them. But when I make my own films, if I also make narrative-based films with plots and performance, then my films would be just like those. Everyone knows what sort of impact those films could make. That impact can only reach a certain level. It can't go any further.
Next: "To me, a screenplay is not a film."