SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Lin Tuan-Qiu’s "May 13th, Night of Sorrow" (五月十三傷心夜) (1965): A Different Taiwanese-Language Film, and A Different Melodrama of Modernity

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Prof Chris Berry (KCL)

Date: 12 February 2019Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 12 February 2019Time: 8:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Film Screening

May 13th, Night of Sorrow 五月十三傷心夜

1965 ∣ 97 min ∣ Black & White ∣ Narrative Feature ∣ Taiwanese


After the death of their mother, Siok-Hui sings in a nightclub to support her younger sister Siok-Tshing, but her immature sister looks down on her occupation. Siok-Tshing then begins working in a pharmaceutical company where she has a crush on her colleague Bun-Pin. But little does she know that Bun-Pin has fallen passionately in love with her sister. It’s while attending a special celebration that Siok-Tshing finally finds out the truth. After drowning her sorrows in alcohol, she is forcibly taken to a hotel by a lascivious businessman obsessed with her sister. Siok-Hui rushes to the hotel, where she finds the man lying in a pool of blood…


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Born into a wealthy Taoyuan family in 1920 and educated partly in Japan, Lin Tuan-Qiu (林摶秋) became the first playwright from the Japanese colonies to stage one of his works in Tokyo in 1942. An established theatrical impresario in the post-war years, he got involved in filmmaking in the late 1950s with the aim of elevating standards. Taiwanese-language films (taiyupian) made on low budgets by private companies launched regular feature filmmaking on the island, with an output of over 1,000 films before state-supported Mandarin-language cinema eclipsed them in the early 1970s. The taiyupian era coincided with Taiwan’s economic miracle, and tragic melodramas of modernity featuring rural women succumbing to the temptations of the big city filled the screens. With its set-up of two sisters falling for the same man, one an earnest graduate working in a chemicals plant, and the other a singer in a club, May 13th, Night of Sorrow seems at first to be ploughing the same furrow. But Lin’s film counters common prejudice and, perhaps surprisingly, lays the groundwork for feminist analysis and solidarity.

CTS-IMG-2017-Chris Berry

Speaker Bio

Chris Berry is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. He has written widely on Taiwan cinema, including co-editing Taiwan New Cinema and After: Island on the Edge with Lu Feii. Most recently, he has worked together with Ming-Yeh Rawnsley on the symposium and screening series, “Taiwan’s Lost Commercial Cinema – Recovered and Restored,” which this screening and lecture extends.

* All SOAS CTS events are free and open to members of the public without prior registration. You simply need to sign in at reception on the day and they will give you a guest pass and direct you to the venue.

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Organiser: SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies

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Sponsor: Taiwan Cinema Toolkit & Taiwan Film Institute