"Days," a new feature by Taiwan-based Malaysian director Tsai Ming-liang, has been selected for the 58th New York Film Festival's Main Slate presented by Film at Lincoln Center, according to the festival's announcement. "Days" will be the fifth film by Tsai in the festival, following "Your Face" in 2018, "Stray Dogs" in 2013, "Goodbye, Dragon Inn" in 2003 and "What Time is it There?" in 2001.
"Days" had its world premiere at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival in February, where the film was selected to compete for the Golden Bear in the main competition section and won the jury Teddy Award. With support of Taipei Cultural Center in New York and Taiwan Academy in Washington, D.C., “Days” was originally scheduled to have its American premiere at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in April, followed by a touring retrospective featuring dozens of Tsai’s works in New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, with Tsai and his longtime muse Lee Kang-sheng in attendance. However, the whole screenings were ultimately canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the NYFF announced the lineup, Tsai wrote a Facebook post especially thanking the MoMA for allowing "Days" to be premiered elsewhere, adding that "each film has its own destiny."
Tsai also said that the New York Film Festival, even though it is non-competitive, is one of the longest-running and most prestigious film festivals in the United States owing to its strict selectivity and that only a few films can successfully land at its Main Slate program; therefore, he feels deeply honored that “Days” can be selected this year.
“Days” recounts the everyday lives of a middle-class man and a poor boy who gives body massages. According to the NYFF’s description, “Lee once again stars as a variation on himself, wandering through a lonely urban landscape and seeking treatment in Hong Kong for a chronic illness; at the same time, a young Laotian immigrant working in Bangkok, played by Anong Houngheuangsy, goes about his daily routine. These two solitary men eventually come together in a moment of healing, tenderness, and sexual release.” “Among the most cathartic entries in Tsai’s filmography, Days is a work of longing, constructed with the director’s customary brilliance at visual composition and shot through with profound empathy,” the festival points out, “Days will undoubtedly stand as one of Tsai’s best, sparest, and most intimate works.”
As the most celebrated figure of the Second New Wave of Taiwanese cinema, Tsai is best known for his unreserved attitude toward thematic and cinematographic experimentation and is said to “chart the contours of contemporary alienation in mesmerizingly enigmatic works that are at once rigorously spare and richly sensuous.”