ILLUSTRATION: Ten Taiwanese Directors You Should Know

ILLUSTRATION: Ten Taiwanese Directors You Should Know

What you need to know

Do you know of these directors?

Images by Nelly Wu.

Taiwanese films have become regular participants in international film festivals and awards over the past few decades. One of the most acclaimed Taiwanese directors is Academy Award-winning Ang Lee (李安), who is known for films like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Life of Pi,” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” among others.

But aside from Lee, who are some other directors in Taiwan you should know of?


The 70-year-old is most famous for his 1989 film “A City of Sadness,” which portrays the 228 Massacre and White Terror period in Taiwan. One of Hou’s signature styles is extreme long takes with little camera movement, and he is known for depicting the turmoil of Taiwan history through the eyes of individuals or a small group of people.

Hou has received numerous international film awards including the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and most recently, the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival for “The Assassin” in 2015.


When talking about films that explore urban Taiwan, the name Edward Yang is bound to come up. Yang’s films reflect the conflict between traditions and modernity, and he was the first Taiwanese director to be awarded the Best Director Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for “Yi Yi,” his most acclaimed film.

The director passed away in 2007, and “Yi Yi” was named one of the 25 best films of the 21st century so far by The New York Times this year. Digital restorations of a series of Yang’s films are also currently screening in Taiwan.


The lesbian director has a strong focus on LGBT topics. She has received numerous film awards, including the Teddy Award (an official award of the Berlin International Film Festival for films with LGBT topics) in 2007.

Her work is well-known in Taiwan, Southeast Asia and China. Chou’s latest project, Six Asian Cities Rainbow Project (亞洲六城彩虹計劃), is a series of six films about LGBT issues shot in six different cities across Asia, including locations where gay topics are highly sensitive.


The Malaysian-Chinese filmmaker is one of the most celebrated directors of Taiwanese cinema. Tsai’s films are known for little dialogue, few close-ups and long takes. He also casts actor Lee Kang-sheng as the lead in almost all of his films.

His films have won numerous film festival awards, including the Venice Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. Tsai recently announced that he is working on a virtual reality film with HTC.


Chung’s films portray Taiwanese society through black humor and striking visuals, which have become his signature mark.

The director also has experience working with TV commercials, music videos and documentaries. His films are regularly shown at Asian films festivals throughout the world and he was awarded Best Director at the 2010 Golden Horse Awards.


Wei is known for directing the highest grossing domestic Taiwanese film, “Cape No. 7,” which was also the director’s first movie. The film was said to reinvigorate the local film industry in 2008.

The director went on to produce “Seediq Bale,” a historical drama depicting the 1930 Musha Incident — a major uprising against colonial Japanese forces which involved the Seediq indigenous group.


As one of Taiwan’s most prominent documentary filmmakers, Yang has produced award-winning documentaries that explore Taiwanese people’s subjectivity and occasionally criticize the social system.


Though also a director of several feature films, Cheng Yu-chieh is best known for his TV mini series, “Days We Stared at the Sun (他們在畢業的前一天爆炸).” The show highlights the apprehension of a group of high school students on the verge of graduation and delves into social class issues. “Days We Stared at the Sun II” is scheduled to air on July 29.


As a student of Hou Hsiao-hsien, Chang Tso-chi’s works often include long shots and long takes. But he has also developed his own style of magic realism which Chang weaves into his narratives — usually about family, youth and love — and has made him one of Taiwan’s leading film directors.

The director in 2014 was sentenced to three years and ten months in jail for rape, and started serving his sentence in April 2015. Chang’s short film, “True Emotion Behind the Wall (鹹水雞的滋味),” which was made while he was imprisoned, was awarded Best Short Film at the Taipei Film Festival this year.


Huang Hui-chen was awarded Taiwan’s first Teddy Award for Best Documentary this year. Her 88-minute documentary, “Small Talk (日常對話),” is Huang’s attempt to understand her gay mother and herself through conversations on issues such as trust and domestic abuse. It also won the 2016 Golden Horse Award for Best Documentary.

Editor: Edward White