Tsai Ming-liang

Tsai Ming-liang (Chinese: 蔡明亮; pinyin: Cài Míngliàng; born 27 October 1957) is a Taiwanese filmmaker who has written and directed eleven feature films and has also directed many short films and television films. Tsai is one of the most celebrated "Second New Wave" film directors of Taiwanese cinema. His films have been acclaimed worldwide and have won numerous awards at film festivals. In 2015, he won Best Director at the Taipei Film Awards for the short film No No Sleep.[1][2] Tsai has been referred to as an auteur.[3]

Tsai Ming-liang
Tsai Ming-liang at Tokyo Filmex 2013.jpg
Tsai in 2013
Born (1957-10-27) 27 October 1957 (age 63)
OccupationFilm director
Years active1989–present
AwardsVenice Film Festival
Golden Lion
1994 – Vive L'Amour

Berlin Film Festival
Silver Bear
1997 – The River

Golden Horse AwardsBest Feature Film
1994 – Vive L'Amour
Best Director
1994 – Vive L'Amour
2013 – Stray Dogs

Early lifeEdit

Tsai was born in Malaysia of Chinese ethnic background and spent his first 20 years of his life in Kuching, Sarawak, after which he moved to Taipei, Taiwan. This, he said, had "a huge impact on [his] mind and psyche," perhaps later mirrored in his films. "Even today," said Tsai, "I feel I belong neither to Taiwan nor to Malaysia. In a sense, I can go anywhere I want and fit in, but I never feel that sense of belonging."[4]

Tsai graduated from the Drama and Cinema Department of the Chinese Culture University of Taiwan in 1982 and worked as a theatrical producer, screenwriter and television director in Hong Kong. From 1989 to 1991, he directed several telefilms. Two of these, All the Corners of the World and Boys, starred his muse, Lee Kang-sheng.



Tsai's first feature film was Rebels of the Neon God (1992). A film about troubled youth in Taipei, it starred Lee as the character Hsiao-Kang. Lee went on to appear in all of Tsai's feature films through 2019. Tsai's second feature, Vive L'Amour (1994), is about three people who unknowingly share an apartment. The film is slow-paced, has little dialogue, and is about alienation; all of these became Tsai's trademarks. Vive L'Amour was critically acclaimed and won the Golden Horse Awards for best picture and best director.

Tsai's next film was The River (1997), in which a family has to deal with the son's neck pain. The family is similar to the one that appears in Rebels of the Neon God and is played by the same three actors. The Hole (1998) is about two neighbors in an apartment. It features several musical numbers.


In Tsai's next film, What Time Is It There? (2001), a man and a woman meet in Taipei before the woman travels to Paris. This was Tsai's first film to star Chen Shiang-chyi, who would star in his next few films alongside Lee. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) is about people inside an old cinema that is closing down. For this film, Tsai included even longer shots and fewer lines of dialogue than in previous films, a trend that continued in his later work. The Wayward Cloud (2005) is a sequel to What Time Is It There? in which Hsiao-Kang and Shiang-chyi meet again and start a relationship while Hsiao-Kang works as a pornographic film actor. This film, like The Hole, features several musical numbers between Tsai's typical slow pace.

Tsai's next film, I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (2006), was his first set in Malaysia and is about two different characters, both played by Lee. In 2007, the Malaysian Censorship Board banned the film based on incidents shown depicting the country "in a bad light" for cultural, ethical, and racial reasons. However, they later allowed the film to be screened in the country after Tsai agreed to censor parts of the film according to their requirements.[5] Tsai's next film, Face (2009), is about a Taiwanese director who travels to France to shoot a film.


Tsai (left) was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the 2010 Busan International Film Festival.

Tsai's next feature film was Stray Dogs (2013), which is about a homeless family. Tsai also directed several short films, including the "Walker" segment of Beautiful 2012 (2012) and Journey to the West (2014), which feature the same character: a monk played by Lee who travels by walking slowly.


Tsai's film honours include a Golden Lion (best picture) for Vive L'Amour at the 51st Venice International Film Festival; the Silver Bear – Special Jury Prize for The River at the 47th Berlin International Film Festival;[6] the FIPRESCI award for The Hole at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival;[7] and the Alfred Bauer Prize and Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for The Wayward Cloud at the 55th Berlin International Film Festival; the Grand Jury Prize at the 70th Venice International Film Festival for Stray Dog. In 1995, he was a member of the jury at the 45th Berlin International Film Festival.[8]

In 2003, Tsai was voted by UK newspaper The Guardian as No. 18 of the 40 best directors in the world.[9] In 2014, Tsai was named an officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the government of France.[10]


Feature filmsEdit

Short and mid-length filmsEdit



  • Sleeping on Dark Waters (2008)
  • Afternoon (2015)[37][38]
  • Your Face (2018)[39]


  • Endless Love (1989)
  • The Happy Weaver (1989)
  • Far Away (1989)
  • All Corners of the World (1989)
  • Li Hsiang's Love Line (1990)
  • My Name is Mary (1990)
  • Ah-Hsiung's First Love (1990)
  • Give Me a Home (1991)
  • Boys (1991)
  • Hsio Yueh's Dowry (1991)
  • My New Friends (1995)


Tsai frequently re-casts actors who he has worked with on previous feature films:

Actor Rebels of the
Neon God

Vive L'Amour
The River
The Hole
What Time
Is It There?

Dragon Inn

The Wayward

I Don't Want
to Sleep Alone

Stray Dogs
Lee Kang-sheng  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Lu Yi-ching  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Yang Kuei-mei  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Chen Shiang-chyi  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Chen Chao-jung  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Miao Tien  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Jean-Pierre Léaud  Y  Y
Norman Atun  Y  Y


  1. ^ Ivan Teo (20 July 2015). "'Thanatos, Drunk 醉.生梦死' wins big at Taipei Film Festival". Grate News. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  2. ^ Patrick Frater (18 July 2015). "Thanatos, Drunk' Soaks Up Top Awards at Taipei Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  3. ^ "151 Auteur Theory: Taiwan Film Auteurs | SP 2015 | UC Berkeley Department of Film & Media". filmmedia.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  4. ^ Huang, Andrew (18 February 2005). "Sense and sensuality: Art-house master Tsai Ming-liang discusses his new movie 'The Wayward Cloud,' and his philosophies in a moody, existential interview". Taiwan News.
  5. ^ "Cutting for change", TheStar Online, 14 May 2007.
  6. ^ "Berlinale: 1997 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Hole". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  8. ^ "45th Berlin International Film Festival". berlinale.de. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  9. ^ Bradshaw, Peter; Brooks, Xa; Haskell, Molly; Malcolm, Derek; Pulver, Andrew; Rich, B. Ruby; Rose, Steve (13 November 2003). "The world's 40 best directors". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  10. ^ Wang, Jing-yi; Chen, Jay (14 August 2014). "Movie director Tsai Ming-liang conferred with French order". Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Berlinale Programme 2005 – Tian bian yi duo yun The Wayward Cloud". berlinale.de. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Face". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  13. ^ STRAY DOGS by Tsai Ming Liang | Urban Distribution International. Urbandistrib.com. Retrieved on 29 Jul 2015.
  14. ^ 70th Venice International Film Festival – Venezia 70 - Jiaoyou (Stray Dogs). Labiennale.org. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  15. ^ [https://www.berlinale.de/en/press/press-releases/detail_34516.html 2020 Berlinale competition announcement. Berlinale.de. Retrieved on 02 February 2020.
  16. ^ Festival international de cinéma – International film festival. FIDMarseille. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  17. ^ Ming Liang TSAI: Madame Butterfly | Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid |. Art-action.org. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  18. ^ (in German) MADAME BUTTERFLY | Viennale. Viennale.at. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  19. ^ Madam Butterfly | Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival. Dokument-festival.com (15 May 2014). Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  20. ^ Festival international de cinéma – International film festival. FIDMarseille. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  21. ^ "69th Venice International Film Festival – Orizzonti - Jingang jing (Diamond Sutra) – Short Film – Closing Screening". labiennale.org. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  22. ^ English – Past Exhibitions – Past Exhibitions. Ntmofa.gov.tw. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  23. ^ "Berlinale Programme 2014 – Xi You Journey to the West". berlinale.de. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  24. ^ VIENNALE TRAILER 2015 – Tsai Ming-liang: XIAO KANG. viennale.at. Retrieved on 25 Oct 2015.
  25. ^ "Viennale-Trailer 2015: Xiao Kang (by Tsai Ming-Liang)" on YouTube
  26. ^ Nadin Mai (17 May 2015). "No No Sleep – Tsai Ming-liang (2015)". The Art(s) of Slow Cinema. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  27. ^ Tsai Ming-liang on Confronting Death in ‘The Deserted’ and the Future of Virtual Reality. thefilmstage.com. Retrieved on 5 Feb 2018.
  28. ^ http://www.cphdox.dk/d/film.lasso?e=1&ser=1785&s=2012003,2012012[dead link]
  29. ^ Beautiful 2012 – Film Details :: The 36th Hong Kong International Film Festival. 36.hkiff.org.hk. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  30. ^ Beautiful 2012 | CAAMFest 2013. Caamfest.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  31. ^ Andrade, Fábio (20 December 2013). "Walker, by Tsai Ming-liang (Hong Kong, 2012)". Cinética. ISSN 1983-0343. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  32. ^ "BIFF 2013 Letters From The South". biff.kr. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  33. ^ "HKAFF 2013 Film Program Letters From The South". hkaff.asia. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  34. ^ "2013 TGHFF Letters From The South". goldenhorse.org.tw. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  35. ^ Beautiful 2015 – Film Details :: The 39th Hong Kong International Film Festival Archived 28 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine. 39.hkiff.org.hk. Retrieved on 28 May 2015.
  36. ^ "The 39th HKIFF collaborates once again with four international filmmakers For the Beautiful 2015 omnibus". hkiff.org.hk. Archived from the original on 28 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  37. ^ 72nd Venice International Film Festival – Out of Competition - NA RI XIAWU (AFTERNOON) Archived 7 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Labiennale.org. Retrieved on 22 Aug 2015.
  38. ^ 40th Toronto International Film Festival – Wavelengths - AFTERNOON NA RI XIA WU Archived 6 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. tiff.net. Retrieved on 22 Aug 2015.
  39. ^ 75th Venice International Film Festival – Biennale Cinema 2018 | Ni de lian (Your Face). Labiennale.org. Retrieved on 27 October 2018.

External linksEdit