‘To Live’ (‘Huozhe’) China(Zhang Yimou, 1994) Much lauded but banned in Mainland China because of its satirical portrayal of the Communist government, this epic, sumptuous film traces the personal fortunes of Fugui and Jiazhen as they fall from wealthy landownership to peasantry over 30turbulentyears.
‘When the Tenth Month Comes’ (‘Bao gio cho den thang muoi’) Vietnam(Dang Nhat Minh, 1984)A vivid portrayal from the point of view of a young Vietnamese widow of the legacy of the Vietnam war. It was released internationally under the name “The Love Doesn’t Come Back.”
‘Himala’ Philippines(Ishmael Bernal, 1982)Young Elsa thinks she has seen the Virgin Mary and goes on a healing crusade — just the miracle the nowhere town she lives in is looking for. The film’s austere camera work, haunting score and accomplished performances sensitively portray the harsh social and cultural conditions that people in the third world endure.
‘A Touch of Zen’ (‘Xia nu’) Hong Kong/Taiwan(King Hu, 1969) In this spiritual kung fu movie, a young artist finds himself caught up in the struggle to help a beautiful young woman escape the Imperial agents who murdered her family. A classic of the martial arts fantasy genre, it was the first Chinese film to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also a massive influence on Ang Lee’s xem bong da “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.”
‘Ikiru’ Japan(Akira Kurosawa, 1952) In this profoundly moralistic fable, longtime salaryman Kanji Watanabe, learns he has terminal cancer and, ultimately, through the experiences he has, the meaning of life. Takashi Shimura who played Watanabe was nominated in the Best Foreign Actor category at the 1960 BAFTA Awards.