A Time to Live, A Time to Die


HOU Hsiao-Hsien

137 mins | 1985 | Fiction | Mandarin, Hakka & Taiwanese Hokkien | English and Chinese Subtitles
2K Restoration

22nd Golden Horse Awards—Best Original Screenplay36th Berlin International Film Festival—FIPRESCI Prize, Forum of New Cinema
16th Rotterdam International Film Festival—Best Non-American/Non-European Film

8:30 PM, MON, Aug 14
Innis Town Hall


A Time to Live, A Time to Die is a semi-autobiographical film where the director HOU Hsiao-hsien conjures his reminiscences of childhood and adolescence in a Taiwan village in 1940s and 50s. It follows his journey to explore themes of identity, family, and the passage of time. The film offers a poetic reflection on life and mortality in the backdrop of Taiwan’s post-war transformation.


HOU Hsiao-Hsien is a renowned Taiwanese film director, widely regarded as a leading figure in world cinema and a significant contributor to Taiwan’s New Wave cinema movement. As a director, one of HOU’s defining traits is his keen interest in exploring the complexities of human emotions and relationships. He skillfully delves into the lives of ordinary individuals, offering a sensitive portrayal of their struggles, joys, and internal conflicts. HOU’s filmmaking style often incorporates long takes and wide shots, allowing the scenes to unfold naturally, which contribute to the authentic portrayal of specific historical periods and locations. HOU Hsiao-Hsien has earned recognitions for his masterful storytelling, capturing the essence of humanity with profound depth and emotional resonance.


  • Director: HOU Hsiao-Hsien
  • Principal Cast: YU An-Shun, TIEN Feng, XIN Shufen, TANG Ru-Yun, XIAO Ai, CHEN Shu-Fang
  • Producer: HSU Hsin-Chih
  • Screenplay: CHU T’ien-wen, HOU Hsiao-Hsien
  • Cinematographer: Mark LEE Ping-Bin
  • Editor: LIAO Ching-Sung
  • Sound: TU Du-Chih
  • Music: WU Chu-Chu
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