Acclaimed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien retires amid Alzheimer’s battle


Acclaimed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien is retiring from filmmaking as he battles Alzheimer’s disease, his family recently confirmed in a statement to local Taiwanese media outlets.

First announcement: Film scholar Tony Rayns broke the news while introducing the 76-year-old Taiwanese director's 1985 film "A Time to Live, a Time to Die" at the Garden Cinema in London on Monday.

Speaking in a pre-recorded message played at the screening, Rayns said Hou's "health is now in decline, and I don’t think he will make any more films."

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Hou family's confirmation: In a statement to Taiwanese media outlets on Wednesday, Hou's family confirmed that the famed director is officially retiring and that he was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. They further noted that he has “fully returned to family life and is resting peacefully.”

They also shared that contracting COVID-19 exacerbated Hou's condition. His family urged the director's friends and fans to "not be sad" by the news.

Project on the line: Even after his diagnosis, Hou reportedly continued working on his film "Shulan River," an adaptation of Hsieh Hai-meng's novel, his family said in the statement. They added that Hou could no longer continue the project. The film's pre-production started in early 2022, which included location scouting.

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With the latest news, Hou’s 2015 film “The Assassin” will now be marked as the last movie he directed.

His company's future: Hou's family confirmed in the statement that the director's company, Sinomovie, would continue its operations; however, Deadline reported that the company would no longer make movies.

Hou’s accolades: Regarded as a prominent figure during Taiwan’s new wave cinema movement in the 1980s, the Chinese-born Hou made history at the 1989 Venice Film Festival when his 1989 historical drama "A City of Sadness," the first Taiwanese film to win at one of the Big Three European Film Festivals, received the coveted Golden Lion award.

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Hou’s film “The Puppet Master” also made history as the first Taiwanese film to enter the Cannes Film Festival competition in 1993, where it won the Jury Prize. Hou also won the Best Director award for his movie “The Assassin” at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

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