Tom Lin Shu-yu

Thomas Lin Shu-yu (Chinese: 林書宇; born 1976)[1] is a Taiwanese director and screenwriter. After the critical success of his first two features, Winds of September (2008), for which he won Best Original Screenplay at the 45th Golden Horse Awards, and Starry Starry Night (2011), he has been considered a leading filmmaker of his generation. His films often deal with autobiographical elements.[2]

Tom Lin Shu-yu
Thomas Lin Shu-yu 林書宇, udntv interview (June 2015) (cropped).jpg
Lin in 2015
Born1976 (45–46)
Alma materShih Hsin University,
CalArts (MFA)

Early lifeEdit

Lin attended elementary school in Twin Cities, Minnesota, where his father was conducting his doctorate research in American literature.[3] He returned to Hsinchu, Taiwan, his junior year to attend National Experimental High School, an experimental bilingual high school,[4] despite not knowing any Mandarin.[3]

Lin graduated from the Department of Radio, Television and Film at Shih Hsin University in 1998.[5][6] Lin later attended the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he studied under Thom Andersen.[4] He graduated with his MFA from CalArts in 2002.[2] His thesis film Parachute Kids is about a recent Taiwan to America transplant and his girlfriend, who is moving to Taiwan with her parents.[7] Originally a documentary about undocumented youths, Lin pivoted into narrative after his would-be subjects revealed too much illegal activity.[3][7] The film was screened at the 21st Vancouver International Film Festival.[7]


After graduation, Lin returned to Taiwan, where he worked as an assistant director for filmmakers like Tsai Ming-liang, Cheng Wen-tang, and Zero Chou.[3] His short The Pain of Others was nominated for a Golden Horse Award in 2005.[4]

Lin made his feature film directorial debut with Winds of September (2008). It's centered around nine high school students' lives in Lin's hometown of Hsinchu, Taiwan. He began writing the script in 2004[8] with characters loosely inspired by his high school friends.[4] Eric Tsang came on as a producer after his daughter, Taiwanese singer Bowie Tsang, recommended him the script after having seen Lin's film The Pain of Others.[3] Lin and co-writer Tsai Tsung-han won Best Original Screenplay at the 45th Golden Horse Awards.

His third feature film Zinnia Flower (2015) is about two mourners bonding 100 days after their partners' deaths. Lin began writing the screenplay for the film 107 days after his wife died in July 2012. The film premiered at the Taipei Film Festival in July 2015 before opening in Taiwanese cinemas in early October.[2] It was nominated for three awards at the 52nd Golden Horse Awards, including Best Original Screenplay.

His fourth feature film The Garden of Evening Mists (2019) is an adaptation of the Booker Prize-shortlisted novel of the same name. It is a wartime romance set during and after the Japanese occupation of Malaya about a former Japanese POW who travels to the Cameron Highlands to build a garden for her dead sister. This was Lin's first foreign production. The film was nominated in nine categories at the 56th Golden Horse Awards, including Lin's first nomination for Best Director.[9]

His next film Life's a Struggle "宋岳庭传" is a musical biography about Taiwanese rapper Shawn "M80" Sung.[10]

Style and influenceEdit

Many of his films feature elements from Lin's life.[2]

Lin cites Taiwanese New Wave Cinema directors Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien as major influences, in regards to "their spirit and ideology, rather than technique and visual styles." Specifically, Yang's A Brighter Summer Day was impactful on Lin as a teenager, who was the same age as the film's protagonist. Both directors had made a film about their teenage lives and Lin wanted to do the same with his first film, Winds of September (2008).[8]

Lin cites mangaka Mitsuru Adachi use of empty locations within a manga frame as an influence on Winds of September''s use of cross-cutting during the graduation scene. The cross-cutting between empty shots of the school was also economical as they could re-use footage they had shot to test the film.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

His wife died in July 2012.[2] His father is a professor at the National Tsing Hua University.[3]


Year Title Director Writer Notes
1997 The Olfactory System Yes short[6]
2002 Parachute Kids Yes short
2005 The Pain of Others Yes Yes short
2008 Winds of September Yes Yes co-writer with Tsai Tsung-han
2011 Starry Starry Night Yes Yes
2015 Zinnia Flower Yes Yes co-writer with Liu Wei-jan
2019 The Garden of Evening Mists Yes No
TBD Life's a Struggle

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result Notes
2008 45th Golden Horse Awards Best Original Screenplay Winds of September Won co-winner with Tsai Tsung-han
2012 Beijing College Student Film Festival Best Director Starry Starry Night Nominated
49th Golden Horse Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
2015 52nd Golden Horse Awards Best Original Screenplay Zinnia Flower Nominated
2019 56th Golden Horse Awards Best Director The Garden of Evening Mists Nominated


  1. ^ "Directors / Lin Shu-yu 林書宇". Taiwan Post New Wave. SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies. 2020-10-07. Retrieved 2021-08-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e Lee, Edmund (2015-11-12). "Mourning glory: Taiwanese director Tom Lin Shu-yu channels his grief into art". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2021-08-27.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Ho Yi (2008-06-04). "Lin Shu-yu hits a home run - Taipei Times". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2021-08-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e Hu, Brian (May 1, 2009). "Keeping Honest: an interview with Winds of September director Tom Lin Shu-yu (Part 1)". Asia Pacific Arts. UCLA Asia Institute. Archived from the original on July 19, 2010. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  5. ^ "The Glory of Shih Hsin! Alumni of Shih Hsin University lead 28 nominations in the 56th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival". Shih Hsin University. October 15, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b "香港獨立電影節2020 HKIndieFF2020". January 18, 2020. Retrieved 2021-08-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b c Roosen-Runge, Lisa. "The 21st Vancouver International Film Festival – A Report – Senses of Cinema". Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  8. ^ a b Chen, Vivian (December 14, 2008). "Tom Lin". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2021-08-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Tom Lin Searches for History and Humanity at 'The Garden of Evening Mists'". The News Lens International Edition. 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2021-09-02.
  10. ^ chiefeditor (2019-03-18). "The 17th Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum Shortlisted Projects | Chinese Film Market". Retrieved 2021-08-28.

External linksEdit