Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Director Hou Hsiao-Hsien
At the New York Film Festival press screening, Hou Hsiao-Hsien spoke with Dennis Lim about his new film “The Assassin” for which he won Best Director at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.


Filmed on location in Japan and on set in Taiwan, “The Assassin” centers on the story of Yinniang, who, abducted at age 10, is now a Tang Dynasty assassin dedicated to the art of killing until memory transforms her course of action.

The Story

Hou Hsiao-Hsien: “There is a lot of information from the Tang Dynasty — tales, legends and novels. I first came across this story in college. I wanted to bring this realism into the film. The story is based on historical facts and then I fleshed out the characters.

I wanted to do this film in the wuxia genre. I wanted to draw inspiration from Samurai movies from Japan as a long tradition of this martial arts practice that would be more in line of how I see the wuxia genre; it should be based onthe realistic depiction of human capacity.”

"The Assassin"
“The Assassin”


Working with Actors

Hou Hsiao-Hsien : “I work with actors and actresses I have worked with together before; they know my style and how I work on set. They will know the script and know the mood I want to create. There is no rehearsal. They come to the set prepared. They know what the scene is about. I have to set up the lights and camera, and I set up the dolly and tracks, and then I ask them to go onto the set I created for them. Hopefully they will be inspired by this mise-en-scène, and the location. The actors immerse themselves and embody the characters. Things happen naturally. Sometimes they do take after take, and when they get too comfortable, they get mechanical and unnatural. I want to somehow change the scene for them, to really act. The long takes go with that particular way of directing.”