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VENICE 2006 Competition

Tsai Ming-Liang and Malaysian love stories


There's no place like home, the saying goes. After a successful list of films set primarily in Taipai, Tsai Ming-Liang decided to chose his birth place Malaysia as the set of his latest film, I don't Want to Sleep Alone [+see also:
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The Venice Film Festival, which awarded Ming-Liang the Golden Lion in 1994 for Vive l'amour, today hosts the official presentation of film, which received warm applause last night at its first press screening.

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"It is an import film for me", said Tsai Ming-Liang. "It explores the theme of immigration. I have put some of my personal memories in it, as I was an immigrant myself in Taiwan". Shooting with a local crew, but still using the director's fetish actor Lee Kang-Sheng, I Don't Want to Sleep Alone tells the story of Hsiao-Kang, a Chinese homeless man who is rescued by a group of Bangladeshi workers after being attacked in the streets. However, this potentially trivial tale about solidarity between foreigners set against the background of a hot and humid Kuala Lumpur soon turns into a more complex plot as one the Bangladeshi men, Rawang, seems to be particularly fond of him.

Tsai Ming-Liang shoots this "love that dares not speak its name" kind of story with profound tenderness and erotic subtleness, which is clearly opposed to his previously hard-core musical The Wayward Cloud. The fragile balance of this relationship will, however, be shaken as Hsiao-Kang soon develops a parallel relationship with Chyi, a waitress at a coffee shop, and her female boss.

From that point on, the film becomes a disturbing labyrinth of emotions, with Ming-Liang using several peculiar symbolic elements, specially the character's hands, seen here a double metaphor for power and affection.

Static plans, musical moments introduced as a resonance of the characters' inner world, very little dialogue, implication rather than a straightforward plot: Ming-Liang's style remains incomparable, proving once again the filmmaker's capacity to thrill us with his unique aptitude to be grotesque and poetic at the same time.

I don't Want to Sleep Alone was produced by Soudaine Compagnie (France) and Homegreen Films (Taiwan) in co-production with New Crowned Hope Festival 2006 (Austria). International sales are being managed by Fortissimo Film Sales.

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