Edward Yang’sYi Yi

DESPITE SOME RECENT, heartening developments—stateside distribution for two Tsai Ming-liang movies (Vive l'amour [1994] and The Hole [1998]) and Winstar's acquisition of an assortment of Hou Hsiao-hsiens (including The Puppetmaster [1993] and Flowers of Shanghai [1998])—Taiwanese cinema is still an unknown quantity in America. It takes time for horizons of cinematic “difficulty” to broaden. Unfortunately, that's the kind of time that few distributors or exhibitors can afford, especially now that the once-flourishing network of independent art houses, the kind that gave an Antonioni semipopular status, is a distant memory.

It's unlikely that any of Taiwan's three greatest filmmakers—Hou, Tsai, and Edward Yang—will ever make it far enough up the ladder to be dismissed as a poseur in the pages of the New Yorker, as Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami was in August. They've never seemed remotely

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