“While he remains one of the best-known art-house directors in Chinese-language cinema, the Malaysian-born, Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang has quietly moved away from traditional film distribution. Since his 2013 film Stray Dogs, Tsai has experimented with a variety of storytelling formats, from short films and documentaries to videos for performing arts projects.
His latest work The Deserted, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September and screened to a number of very lucky crowds at the recent Hong Kong International Film Festival, sees the 60-year-old filmmaker venture into the burgeoning field of virtual reality (VR) filmmaking.
Shot in an abandoned house in rural Taipei, The Desertedobserves a sick man (Lee Kang-sheng, who is a fixture in Tsai films) as he passes his days in the company of his mother’s spirit (Lu Yi-ching, another regular), a fish he keeps in his bath, and one, or maybe, two female ghosts. Tsai’s signature use of static long takes appears to have found new life in the 360-degree cinema offered by the medium” says Edmund Lee.