Friday, April 21 - Sunday, April 23, 2023
Fan Ho Weekend

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Curated by Timmy Chih-Ting Chen and Presented with Speculative Place

Friday, April 21 at 7:30pm
Lost, Fan Ho and Sun Po-ling, 1970, digital projection, 90 mins

Saturday, April 22 at 7:30pm
Yu Pui Tsuen, Fan Ho, 1987, digital projection, 102 mins

Sunday, April 23 at 7:30pm
L’Air du Temps, Fan Ho, 1990, 16mm, 85 mins

Shanghai émigré artist Fan Ho (1931-2016) is at once revered as a Hong Kong street photographer and stigmatized as a commercially successful director of softcore Category III films (Hong Kong's equivalent to an X rating). Many people know Fan Ho played Monk Xuanzang in four Shaw Brothers adaptations of Journey to the West between 1966 and 1968, though far fewer are familiar with Ho’s experimental films from the same period, which are among the more than 30 movies he directed between the mid-1960s and the mid-1990s.

Lost, Fan Ho’s first feature-length film, co-directed with photographer Sun Po-ling, was considered lost for close to half a century, until Reel to Reel Institute located the only surviving 35mm print (with German subtitles) from the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute, and brought it to light in 2021. After its premiere at Cannes in 1970, Lost was screened at the First Festival of Women’s Films in New York City in June, 1972 following filmmaker Tang Shu Shuen’s recommendation. Based on Ho’s earlier experiment Study No. 1 (1966), Lost concerns a Hong Kong ink artist caught between Chinese and Western influences, between spiritual and erotic pursuits.

Trippy with a touch of zen, Yu Pui Tsuen was released one year before the institutionalization of the Category III rating in 1988. This work was a transitional, trendsetting film that drew from the “wind and moon” genre of Sinophone literary erotica and anticipated the popular Sex and Zen series in the 1990s, as well as the anticlimactic hit 3D Sex and Zen (2011). Faithful to its source material, 17th-century novel The Carnal Prayer Mat, Yu Pui Tsuen combines the pleasures of the flesh with a story of karmic retribution, focusing on the restraint, rather than release, of desire.

A rare and underrated film, L’Air du Temps was made in post-martial-law Taiwan and is centered around a newspaper article about a single mother looking for the father of her son. The child is the product of a drunken encounter twelve years prior, on December 16, 1978, when the United States cut its official ties with Taiwan in order to establish relations with mainland China. Juxtaposing romance with diplomacy, and set against a backdrop of protest, both staged and documentary, L’Air du Temps plays like a political allegory by way of a melodrama.

Each screening will be followed by a conversation with Chen and Tiffany Sia.

Timmy Chih-Ting Chen is Research Assistant Professor at the Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University. In addition to the work of Fan Ho, he is currently researching song-and-dance films and Hong Kong experimental cinema in the 1960s.

Speculative Place is a living-dead space. Originally founded in Hong Kong, now re-emerged as an artist-run project, Speculative Place endures in printed form, on the web, and in occasional workshops and talks.

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.

Above: Still from Yu Pui Tsuen, courtesy My Way Films.

Our Fan Ho Weekend is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Print of L’Air du Temps courtesy of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research.