Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien retires from film-making due to dementia, Latest Movies News - The New Paper

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien retires from film-making due to dementia

TAIPEI – Taiwanese film-maker Hou Hsiao-hsien, considered one of the greatest directors of the 21st century, has retired from making movies as he battles dementia.

This was disclosed by film scholar Tony Rayns during a screening of Hou’s 1985 drama The Time To Live And The Time To Die at the Garden Cinema in London on Monday, according to entertainment website IndieWire.

IndieWire has also confirmed Hou’s retirement with a source close to the director, and with Dr George Crosthwait, the film curator of the Garden Cinema, who said that Hou “will certainly not work again”.

IndieWire said Hou’s office in Taipei has been closed and his staff, including his right-hand woman, film producer Chang Chu-ti, have been “let go”.

It is believed Hou’s family has not made any public announcement on the 76-year-old’s health as they are seeking privacy on the issue.

Hou – one of the lead icons of Taiwan’s 1980s New Wave movie genre, together with the late director Edward Yang – made his directorial debut with Lovable You (1980). The romantic drama starred the late Taiwanese singer Fong Fei-fei and Hong Kong pop band The Wynners’ Kenny Bee and Anthony Chan. 

Hou’s other notable works include The Puppetmaster (1993), Goodbye South, Goodbye (1996) and Flowers Of Shanghai (1998).

His final film as director is The Assassin, the 2015 martial arts film starring Taiwanese actress Shu Qi and Taiwanese actor Chang Chen. The film won Hou Best Director at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and 2015 Golden Horse Awards.

He has won Best Director two other times at the Golden Horse Awards – for A City Of Sadness (1989) and Good Men, Good Women (1995). He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Horse Awards in November 2020.

He has reportedly been in poor health in recent years, with media reports in 2020 saying he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and that he could not remember his fellow directors.

At that time, his long-time working partner, screenwriter Chu Tien-wen, clarified that Hou was not suffering from Parkinson’s disease but said he had poor memory due to old age.

Hou and Chu also disclosed in February 2022 the progress of the director’s two new projects Shulan River and The Distance I Will Go, saying he had approached Shu Qi and Chang – co-stars in The Assassin – to star in the two movies respectively. 

Hou attended the screening of the remastered 4K version of the crime movie Dust Of Angels (1992), directed by Hsu Hsiao-ming and produced by Hou, in Taipei in April 2022.

However, Hou sparked speculation that he was not in good health when he was absent during the screening of the remastered 4K version of A City Of Sadness in Taipei in February 2023. The screening was attended by Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai, one of the film’s leading actors.