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Past Present is an exploration of Tsai Ming-Liang’s journey in film, both as filmgoer and maker, tracing his philosophy as a director to his childhood experience growing up in Kuching, Malaysia and the importance of moving to Taiwan in the 1970s. In this film, Tsai revisits the old cinemas that he used to frequent with his grandparents and tells the story of how he would watch two films every evening with them.
With a strong sense of loss, Tsai rediscovers his past while evaluating the present in which he described as a ‘throwaway era’ where people are no longer able to value things from the past. Tsai’s colleagues, from Ang Lee to Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and his constant collaborators like Lee Kang-Sheng and Chen Shiang-Chyi, discuss the uniqueness of his work and him as a person, in search for ever greater freedom and artistry.