Flowers of Shanghai - IFFAM - 4th International Film Festival and Awards ‧ Macao

Flowers of Shanghai
Taiwan Region | 1998 | 130’ | DCP | Colour | Cantonese, Shanghainese | Group: C
Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien

2019/12/10 19:00 Cinematheque‧Passion

Programmer’s Note

In Flowers of Shanghai Hou Hsiao-Hsien turns away from his series of films about the emotional economic, political, and social history of Taiwan, to focus on a unique and fascinating segment of Chinese history. Set in Shanghai in the late 19th century, the film tells a story of women, of cultivated courtesans who enjoyed the power that the rules of the houses conferred them and could accept or reject lovers as they liked. Visually sumptuous with gorgeous sets and magnificent costumes, the film is exquisitely shot and acted.  Its rigorous editing encapsulates the rituals of the isolated, ornate world of the ‘flower houses’ while Hou’s interest drifts from linear storytelling to the shifting of emotions of his characters. Elegant and fluid camera movements reveal the inner life of this closed world, capturing slight changes of hearts or stifled feelings with surprising accuracy, in what is considered one of the great masterpieces of the 1990’s.

– Giovanna Fulvi


This period piece takes us back to the 1880s Shanghai where elegant brothels, also known as ‘flower houses’, located around the British Concession, were frequented by court officials and dignitaries. Here, men, with opium pipes at hand, gathered around tables of food and games, while women tried their best to befriend and attract patrons.


Hou Hsiao-Hsien

Hsiao-Hsien Hou was born in Mei County, Guangdong in 1947. The following year, he moved to Taiwan with his family. Hou graduated from the National Taiwan Academy of Arts and entered the film industry in 1973 as a script supervisor. After years of working on set, he made his first feature Lovable You in 1980. With films like The Boys From Fengkuei (1983) and A Summer At Grandpa’s (1984), Hou became a leading character in the New Taiwanese Cinema movement. His film A City Of Sadness (1989), the first of his ‘Taiwanese History Trilogy’, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1989. In 2015, He was awarded Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival for The Assassin.

Cast & Crew

Director Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Scriptwriter(s) T’ien-wen Chu, Eileen Chang, Han Bangqing

Producer(s) Shôzô Ichiyama, Teng-Kuei Yang

Cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing

Production Designer Wen-Ying Huang

Editor Ching-Song Liao

Music Yoshihiro Hanno, Duu-Chih Tu

Costumes Designer Wen-Ying Huang, Shu-Chen Liao, Bu-Hai Shen

Cast Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Michiko Hada, Michelle Reis, Carina Lau, Jack Kao

Production Companies 3H Productions, Shochiku


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