We have had the privilege of speaking with Taiwan-based filmmaker/master of slow cinema Tsai Ming-liang three times over the last four years (see here, here, and here). This year, he returned to the Berlin International Film Festival with Days, his first narrative feature since the Venice Grand Jury Prize winner Stray Dogs in 2013.
Premiering in competition, the “intentionally un-subtitled” film tells of the lives of two solitary men who share an intimate moment together, then resume their lonely existence again. We sat down with Mr. Tsai in Berlin to talk about narrative filmmaking, not subtitling Days, and shooting Lee Kang-Sheng’s face.
Mr. Tsai, you returned to narrative filmmaking with Days after a series of (mixed-form) documentaries (Afternoon, Your Face) and a VR film (The Deserted). Is there any difference in the way you approached or prepared the project?
When I make films these days, I don’t think about preparations. I used to write scripts, come up with ideas, but that’s not how I approach filmmaking anymore. Instead, I focus on the collection of footage. I save and accumulate footage. This probably has to do with my background in museums. I often think about saving and potentially using film footage for exhibitions someday. For example, when Kang (longtime collaborator Lee Kang-Sheng) fell ill, I felt strongly about documenting the process on film. And I made sure to have a good cinematographer do it properly. That’s how Days came to be. After a few years of footage collection, I met Anong (Anong Houngheuangsy, co-lead of Days) whom I also filmed this way. One day, I simply wondered what it would be like to combine this footage. [FULL STORY]