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MoMI to Present “Six Films of Midi Z,” Coinciding with NINA WU’s Theatrical Debut, from March 26-April 11, 2021
2021/03/20

Taipei Cultural Center in New York is proud to announce a new collaboration with the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) to present an online retrospective of Midi Z, coinciding with the theatrical debut of the director’s new feature, NINA WU (2019), a Cannes Un Certain Regard selection. In addition to NINA WU, the retrospective will also boast five of Midi Z’s most acclaimed films from the past decade, including 14 APPLES (2018), THE ROAD TO MANDALAY (2016), CITY OF JADE (2016), ICE POISON (2014) and RETURN TO BURMA (2011). All of these films will be available nationwide from March 26 through April 11 on MoMI’s virtual cinema.

NINA WU is a psychological thriller directed by Midi Z and written by Wu Ke-xi, who also stars in the leading role. Noted Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino praised it as "Thrilling, you have to see it twice!" after attending the film’s world premiere at Cannes. NINA WU is described as a sumptuous, stylized thriller, reminiscent of Mulholland Drive, Black Swan and other poison pen letters to the entertainment industry. When the film was released in Taiwan, it stirred conversations about the #MeToo movement throughout the island.


Born in Myanmar in 1982, Midi Z moved to Taiwan at the age of sixteen. He studied art and design before obtaining a master’s degree from the National Taiwan University of Technology and Science. In 2006, his graduation film, PALOMA BLANCA, was invited to several film festivals, including those in Busan and Gothenburg. In 2011, RETURN TO BURMA, his debut feature, was nominated for the Busan New Currents Competition and Rotterdam Tiger Competition. In 2014, ICE POISON won Best International Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival and represented Taiwan at the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.

As MoMI’s website states, “Midi Z’s films slide effortlessly yet purposefully between fiction and nonfiction, the experienced and the observed. A protégé of the great Hou Hsiao-hsien, the Myanmar-born Midi Z is similarly adept at mixing lived reality with cinematic magic. His compassionate and artistically rigorous films often explore the lives of displaced people on the margins trying to navigate societal oppression and earn a decent living. His most recent film, NINA WU, marked a major step forward in terms of budget and scope while maintaining a crucial intimacy with the land and culture of his previous work.” Nina Wu was slated to be the closing night film at MoMI’s 2020 First Look Festival, an annual showcase of innovative, new international cinema that ended prematurely due to COVID-19.


The presentation also includes two new video discussions, one featuring critic Jessica Kiang in conversation with Midi Z and Wu Ke-Xi about NINA WU, and a career-focused conversation between Midi Z and Jeff Reichert, co-editor of Reverse Shot and Oscar-winning producer. 

For more information, please visit MoMI’s official website: movingimage.us/MidiZ.



(We are now offering discount codes for the “Six Films by Midi Z” online retrospective. Please apply the code “TpeccNYMidiZ2021” at checkout to receive $5 off the series pass, or use “TpeccNYNinaWu2021” to receive $2 off Nina Wu tickets. The discount codes are subject to availability and are on a first-come, first served basis.)

Photo courtesy of Film Movement

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Nina Wu (灼人秘密)
2021/03/20

Dir. Midi Z. Taiwan, Malaysia, Myanmar. 2019, 103 mins. In Mandarin with English subtitles. With Wu Ke-Xi, Sung Yu-Hua, Hsia Yu-Chiao, Shih Ming-Shuai.

After eight years spent toiling in bit parts, aspiring actress Nina Wu finally lands a leading role in a spy thriller set in the 1960s. The shoot is challenging—explicit sex scenes, an impatient and insensitive director—but the film proves to be a professional and critical breakthrough. Nevertheless, Nina’s psychological resolve begins to crack. In light of two family crises, she rushes back to her family home, where she dreams of rekindling a close relationship with her childhood friend Kiki, while suffering from visions of a mysterious woman stalking and attacking her. As Nina clings to memories of happier times, she also seems to be repressing a crucial memory. 

NINA WU was a New York Times Critic's Pick on March 25. To read the review: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/25/movies/nina-wu-review.html.



Photo courtesy of Film Movement

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14 Apples (14顆蘋果)
2021/03/20

Dir. Midi Z. Taiwan, Myanmar. 2018, 84 mins.

In Myanmar, an insomniac is advised by a fortune teller that he should become a monk, live in a temple, and eat an apple a day for 14 days. In this moving and personal documentary, Midi Z films the man’s process, an experience that allows him to return to the poverty he experienced during childhood and the religion that deeply influenced his life.

Photo courtesy of Seashore Image Productions

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The Road to Mandalay (再見瓦城)
2021/03/20

Dir. Midi Z. Taiwan, Myanmar, France, Germany. 2016, 108 mins. In Burmese with English subtitles.

Described in Variety as “a low-key, high-impact love story about two illegal immigrants with very different ideas about making money and starting a new life in Bangkok,” The Road to Mandalay follows two strangers who are thrown together as they flee conflict and poverty and try to find work. With its assured visual style and compelling, eerie soundtrack, The Road to Mandalay marked a major step forward in Midi Z’s evolution as a filmmaker.



Photo courtesy of Film Movement

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City of Jade (翡翠之城) 
2021/03/20

Dir. Midi Z. Taiwan, Myanmar. 2016, 99 mins.

Midi Z was only five when his 16-year-old brother abandoned the family. There were rumors that he had found riches in the mythical City of Jade. The family only saw him again at his father's funeral in 1997, poor and addicted to opium. Years later, after Midi Z had moved to Taiwan and become a film director, the brother was released from the Mandalay prison. In search of wealth in the form of a jade gemstone, he set off for the mines, just like countless others in Myanmar's war-torn Chinese border state of Kachin. Midi Z accompanied him with his camera, following him on his motorbike through the jungle, pushing ever further into dangerous territory. City of Jade powerfully documents a cinematic attempt to bring two very different brothers together.

Photo courtesy of Seashore Image Productions

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Ice Poison (冰毒) 
2021/03/20

Dir. Midi Z. Taiwan, Myanmar. 2014, 95 mins. With Wu Ke-xi, Wang Shin-hong.

With crop prices weak, a Burmese farmer pawns his cow for an old motorcycle so that his son can make extra money driving passengers to town. The new business doesn’t take off until the son meets a young woman who is involved with the risky but lucrative business of transporting crystal meth. This meticulously executed and mesmerizing story captures the changes occurring in Myanmar under capitalism. The film was Taiwan’s official entry to the 2015 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

Photo courtesy of Seashore Image Productions

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Return to Burma (歸來的人)
2021/03/20

Dir. Midi Z. Taiwan, Myanmar. 2011, 85 mins. In Mandarin, Yunnan dialect, with English subtitles.

In anticipation of Myanmar’s first democratic presidential election, Xing-hong, a Burmese construction worker in Taiwan, returns home hoping that change will come to his country. Return to Burma was the first feature film shot in Myanmar, where the first presidential election had just taken place. However, democracy was far from thriving, and the government only allowed limited foreign press into the country. As a result, Midi Z had to shoot this semi-autobiographical homecoming story without official permission, and with only minimal equipment and crew.

Photo courtesy of Seashore Image Productions


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