UCCA Beijing



Cinema Arts
Location:  UCCA Art Cinema


HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-Hsien

1997 / France / Olivier Assayas / 91 min / In Chinese with Enlgish subtitles

Originally aired as part of Cinéma de notre temps, which once featured Rivette interviewing Renoir, HHH: Un portrait de Hou Hsiao-Hsien (HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-Hsien) gave French director and screenwriter Olivier Assayas the opportunity to turn the lens on his primary artistic influence. Assayas, who while a critic at Cahiers du cinéma had championed Hou long before it was in vogue to do so, followed the master filmmaker around his native Taiwan. Released just after Assayas’ breakout Irma Vep, this intimate documentary profiles a director who was largely unknown on the global scene in the late 90s. HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-Hsien remains the most thorough look at one of the most revered living directors.


As a critic for Cahiers du cinéma, Assayas was among the first to recognize the profound talent of Hou Hsiao-hsien, the Taiwanese director often considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers working today. Assayas’ documentary follows Hou as he wanders through Taipei visiting childhood friends and discussing his life and work. In keeping with the eclectic trajectory of his career, Assayas offered this intimate portrait of a still relatively unknown Hou as an immediate follow-up to his breakout hit Irma Vep (1996).

Director’s Bio

Like the founders of the French New Wave, Olivier Assayas (1955–) discovered the cinema first as a critic writing for the influential journal Cahiers du cinéma. The dynamic eclecticism Assayas would evince in his filmmaking is already fully legible in his criticism, which focuses with equal insight on a diverse range of directors from Ingmar Bergman and Kenneth Anger to Hou Hsiao-Hsien and King Hu.

And like the New Wave directors, Assayas' films are inspired both by art cinema and popular culture, intertwining currents from "high" and "low." In place of the Hollywood B-movie beloved by the nouvelle vague, Assayas channels the gritty energy of punk and post-punk culture and Asian genre films, mixed with quieter strains of East Asian hip and cool. While Assayas is well-schooled in the venerated canon of postwar world cinema (Bresson and Visconti, Ozu and Mizoguchi), his work also gravitates markedly towards the avant-gardist margins (especially Anger and Warhol, but also the Situationists) and the perennially young "new waves" of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In a filmmaking career now more than twenty years old (including mid-1980s screenplays directed by André Téchiné), Assayas has consistently conveyed an active imagination and a continued fascination with the dynamics of love, lust and affection, with misfits and criminals, and with cinema's unique ability to make them all real.


Box office will close 30 minutes after the film starts.



French Embassy, Beijing