A holy grail of restorations is premiering soon. As part of Film at Lincoln Center’s Desire/Expectations: The Films of Edward Yang (running December 22, 2023 through January 4, 2024) the 4K restoration of the late, legendary director’s 1996 feature Mahjong will world-premiere.

Along with all of his features, the series also includes the anthology film In Our Time, which he contributed to, as well as The Winter of 1905, directed by Yu Wei-cheng and scripted by Yang, and nine minutes from Yang’s unfinished animated martial arts film The Wind (2002–2005), whose production was halted after his death. 

Also featuring the recently restored A Confucian Confusion, a proper run of Yi Yi, A Brighter Summer Day, Taipei Story, That Day, on the Beach, and Terrorizers, see the lineup and schedule below, with tickets on sale Thursday, November 30 at noon and an FLC Members pre-sale starting Wednesday, November 29 at noon.

The Winter of 1905
Yu Wei-cheng, 1982, Taiwan, 90m
Mandarin with English subtitles

Before he turned his attention to directing, Edward Yang contributed the screenplay to this rarely screened period piece starring legendary Hong Kong action director Tsui Hark (Peking Opera Blues) as the great Chinese artist and Buddhist monk Li Shutong, aka Master Hong Yi. In 1905, Li traveled to Japan to study Western painting and music, and upon his return revolutionized the teaching of art in China, influencing an entire generation of artists. Set during the turbulent era of the Russo-Japanese War, director Yu Wei-cheng’s film reveals the human dimension of this celebrated figure, while Yang’s sensitive script depicts Li as a young intellectual hewing to his artistic ideals in the face of great political turmoil. Courtesy of the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute.
Tuesday, December 26 at 6:00pm
Wednesday, January 3 at 6:30pm

In Our Time
Tao Te-chen, Edward Yang, Ko I-cheng, Chang Yi, 1982, Taiwan, 110m
Mandarin with English subtitles

Spanning different points of history (from the 1960s to the then-present) and stages of youth with an uncommonly realist aesthetic for its era, the anthology film In Our Time revitalized Taiwanese narrative cinema in the 1980s and established a break from decades of rigidly conservative movies entrenched in the local industry. Yang’s first work made for theatrical release, Expectations, is the anthology’s second short, a plangent snapshot of the early 1960s and a teenage girl’s sexual awakening as she pines for the older university student boarding with her family. Capturing the end of adolescence—and a world on the cusp of ominous change—through the smallest nuances of atmosphere and performance, Expectations is a prototype for the exquisite etchings of a time and place that would preoccupy Yang’s body of work. 2K restoration courtesy of the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute.

Screening with:
The Wind
Edward Yang, 2002–2005, Taiwan, 9m
Mandarin with English subtitles

Of the many unrealized projects Yang developed in the wake of Yi Yi, the one that came the closest to fruition was an ambitious animated martial arts movie inspired by his lifelong love of graphic novels and his friendship with Jackie Chan. Though production on The Wind was halted after Yang’s death, this brief assembly of completed scenes offers a glimpse of what might have been. Courtesy of the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute.
Tuesday, December 26 at 3:30pm
Saturday, December 30 at 2:00pm
Tuesday, January 2 at 6:00pm

That Day, on the Beach
Edward Yang, 1983, Taiwan, 166m
Hokkien, Mandarin, German, and English with English subtitles

Yang’s first theatrical feature film (which also marked the debut of the cinematographer Christopher Doyle) is a visually and emotionally arresting melodrama of fractured romance, disaffection, and the intergenerational breakdown felt across Taiwan in the 1980s. It focuses on the reunion of two old friends—Chia-li (Sylvia Chang), a housewife trapped in a crumbling marriage, and Ching-ching (Terry Wu), a concert pianist newly returned to Taiwan after many years abroad. As they reminisce about their 13 years apart, Yang moves gracefully from past to present and between perspectives to reflect on his two protagonists’ present stations in life. An intricate memory piece that unfolds with the pacing of a mystery, That Day, on the Beach is one of the greatest debuts of the late 20th century and announced Yang as an artist already in full command of densely layered, compositional storytelling. 2K restoration courtesy of the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute.
Sunday, December 24 at 4:15pm
Wednesday, December 27 at 8:00pm
Saturday, December 30 at 4:30pm

Taipei Story
Edward Yang, 1985, Taiwan, 110m
Hokkien and Mandarin with English subtitles

In his second feature—perhaps the director’s most penetrating and somber cinematic encapsulation of Taiwan’s rapidly changing capital—Yang used the gradual dissolution of a relationship as a broader statement of a nation in a state of alienating transition. Made in collaboration with friend and fellow filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien, who (in addition to co-writing and helping to finance the film) delivers a tremendous, rare acting performance as Lung, a washed-up, disillusioned baseball player who has returned from the United States to run his family’s textile business. At odds with the city that has seemingly left him behind, he inhabits a much different world than his girlfriend, Chen (singer Tsai Chin), an executive assistant who sees the city’s rapid transformation as a prime opportunity to advance her career. Framed in precisely calibrated compositions of urban anonymity and featuring a nonprofessional cast that Yang hoped would reflect the city as he and friends experienced it firsthand, Taipei Story is a psychologically rich character drama realized through the prism of social critique. A Janus Films release.

Taipei Story was restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique and Hou Hsiao-hsien.

Saturday, December 23 at 1:30pm
Friday, December 29 at 8:30pm
Sunday, December 31 at 4:30pm
Monday, January 1 at 8:30pm
Tuesday, January 2 at 3:30pm

Edward Yang, 1986, Taiwan/Hong Kong, 108m
Mandarin with English subtitles

Yang’s most narratively intricate and formally audacious film opens with an early-morning police shootout in which a woman (known only as “the white chick”) is seen fleeing the scene through the lens of a young amateur photographer. Elsewhere in the city, blocked novelist Chou (Wayne Wang muse Cora Miao) unsuccessfully tries to elicit sympathy from her frosty husband, a lab technician whose sense of self-worth hinges on being chosen for an important promotion. Gradually, these enigmatic characters emerge in sharper relief—and converge in a series of dazzling and unexpected ways—while the line between reality and fiction blurs in the pages of Chou’s latest story. A complexly layered, self-reflexive puzzle film (like something between Antonioni’s Blow-Up and Spike Jonze’s Adaptation), Terrorizers is at once Yang’s ultimate statement on the isolation of modern living and a road map through his own formidable creative process. 2K restoration courtesy of the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute.
Sunday, December 24 at 7:45pm
Friday, December 29 at 6:00pm
Monday, January 1 at 6:00pm

A Brighter Summer Day
Edward Yang, 1991, Taiwan, 237m
Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitles

A deeply personal epic comparable in scope and impact to the Godfather movies and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, Yang’s extraordinary memory film stretches tautly over four hours of screen time and more than 100 speaking parts. Set in the early 1960s (Yang’s own teenage years) and inspired by the true story of Taiwan’s first juvenile homicide case, the film follows rebellious teenager Xiao Si’r (the debut role of Chen Chang, years before appearing in Happy Together and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as he comes of age amid rival street gangs and the “White Terror” witch hunts of Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang government. Few movies more readily call to mind the great, sprawling novels of the 19th century and their portraits of ordinary individuals caught in the maelstrom of a changing society—A Brighter Summer Day is widely considered, alongside Yi Yi, as one of Yang’s crowning cinematic achievements. A Janus Films release.

A Brighter Summer Day was restored in 2009 by the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the Central Motion Picture Corporation, and the Edward Yang Estate. Scan performed at Digimax laboratories in Taipei. Restoration funded by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways, and Qatar Museum Authority.
Saturday, December 23 at 4:00pm
Monday, December 25 at 2:00pm
Sunday, December 31 at 7:00pm
Monday, January 1 at 1:30pm
Thursday, January 4 at 4:15pm

A Confucian Confusion
Edward Yang, 1994, Taiwan, 129m
Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles

Yang’s panoramic satire is set in the material world of 1990s Taipei, the skyline choked by smog and lit up by the neon signs of globally branded corporations. With his rapier wit, Yang observes the self-absorption of a gaggle of twentysomething urbanites, including “culture company” impresario Molly (Ni Shujun), her wealthy fiancé (who fears Molly may be cheating on him), her talk-show-host sister, and the sister’s estranged husband, a novelist whose latest book imagines a reincarnated Confucius returning—with considerable horror—to a modern society ostensibly built upon his teachings. Though it signaled a shift in tone from his earlier, more dramatic films, the ambitious and incisive A Confucian Confusion finds Yang once again searching for the soul of a country he no longer quite recognizes. An NYFF32 Main Slate and NYFF60 Revivals selection. A Janus Films release.

The new 4K restoration was undertaken by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute with the support of Kaili Peng and Kailidoscope Pictures.

Sunday, December 24 at 1:30pm
Tuesday, December 26 at 8:00pm
Thursday, December 28 at 1:30pm
Thursday, January 4 at 1:30pm

Edward Yang, 1996, Taiwan, 121m
English and Mandarin with English subtitles
World Premiere of New 4K Restoration

A screwball farce about the manipulation and lies baked into modern prosperity, Mahjong centers on a trendy nightspot in Taipei, where Yang orchestrates the elaborate comings and goings of a raft of disparate characters, including a couple of mob enforcers (one played by Yi Yi’s Wu Nien-Jen, co-writer of That Day, on the Beach and Taipei Story), an American escort service madam, and a young Frenchwoman (Virginie Ledoyen) looking for the British entrepreneur who wooed her in London. Yang’s penultimate feature is as much a wry critique of the many dark crime-comedies of its decade as it is a jaundiced love letter to late ’90s Taipei—a city where languages, classes, and ideologies collide at a dizzying rate, and the pursuit of happiness is a brutal zero-sum game. An NYFF34 Main Slate selection. A Janus Films release.

The new 4K restoration was undertaken by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute with the support of Kaili Peng and Kailidoscope Pictures.

Saturday, December 23 at 8:30pm
Wednesday, December 27 at 2:00pm
Thursday, December 28 at 4:15pm
Wednesday, January 3 at 8:30pm

Yi Yi
Edward Yang, 2000, Taiwan, 173m
Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles

A work of extraordinary synchronicity, empathy, and narrative control, Yi Yi is like a particularly fine timepiece, as fascinating for the way it functions as the way it is formed. Once again and for his final completed feature, Yang probed the conflicts and anxieties of life in Taiwan, but this time through the prism of family. Middle-aged businessman NJ (wonderfully played by Wu Nien-Jen, one of the key screenwriters of the New Taiwan Cinema) is having personal and professional crises—his computer firm is in flux and he’s just reconnected with an old girlfriend. Meanwhile, Grandma has had a stroke, for which NJ’s daughter blames herself; his wife runs off to a religious retreat; and his son is having trouble adjusting to it all—perhaps because he’s a genius. Winner of the Best Director Award at Cannes, Yi Yi would be remarkable if only for the nuanced performances, or for the delicacy of the narrative, or for the gentleness and affection with which Yang considers his characters: Together, these ingredients make it both irresistible and overwhelming. An NYFF38 Main Slate selection. A Janus Films release.
Friday, December 22 at 3:00pm & 6:30pm
Monday, December 25 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, December 27 at 4:30pm
Friday, December 29 at 2:00pm
Saturday, December 30 at 8:00pm
Sunday, December 31 at 1:00pm
Tuesday, January 2 at 8:30pm
Wednesday, January 3 at 2:30pm
Thursday, January 4 at 8:45pm

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