I Remember-Documentary on novelists Chu Tien-wen and Chu Tien-hsin.

The legendary writer sisters who have each carved their own paths in literature and life.

About the Writers

Chu Tien-wen, born in 1956, published her first story when she was sixteen. She cofounded the San-san Jikan (“double three journal”) and was publisher of the San-san Bookstore.

Chu wrote the script for fifteen of director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s movies, winning the Golden Horse Award three times for best adapted screenplay and best original screenplay. An important fiction writer of contemporary Taiwan, Chu’s works have been translated into English, French, German, Japanese and Korean.

In 1994 she won the China Times Million Dollar Prize for Fiction with Notes of a Desolate Man. It was translated into English and published in 1999, receiving a “notable book” recommendation by the New York Times, and was named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times. In 2008 she received the Jury Award from The Dream of the Red Chamber Award for her novel, Witch’s Brew. She was awarded the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature in 2015. Her other works include Tamkang Chronicles, City of Hot Summer, Fin de siècle Splendor, The Book of Golden Vows, and The Best of Times.

Chu Tien-hsin was born in March 1958 in Fengshan of Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City, with ancestral roots in Linqu in China’s Shandong Province. She graduated from the Department of History, National Taiwan University, and was an editor for the San-san Jikan (“double three journal”). She is the multiple-time recipient of the China Times Literary Award and the United Daily News Fiction Prize, and now devotes herself full-time to writing.

Her works include Songs of Rustic Pleasures, I Remember, Days on the Ark, In Remembrance of My Buddies from the Military Compound, The Weekly Political Journal of a Novelist, The Old Capital, and A Dream of Thirty-three Years.

“Time cannot be turned back, nor can life. However, in the process of writing, I am able to turn back everything that otherwise couldn’t be.”—— Chu Tien-wen

About the Film

The husband-and-wife literary duo, Chu Hsi-ning and Liu Musha, sustained their family through their literary endeavors, nurturing two daughters—Chu Tien-wen and Chu Tien-hsin—who grew to be addicted to words as though their lives depended on it and became legendary in their own rights. Although fallen from the same tree, the sisters have each conquered their own cities and realms within the grid of the manuscript paper, building formidable literary countries that differ greatly in style.

Chu Tien-wen, the elder sister, is reserved and quiet, with a keen sense of perception. Inheriting her father Chu Hsi-ning’s approach to writing, she continues to explore with innovations in her literary style and with new possibilities, as though she were a prophet-sorceress wielding the power of alchemy to transform words into gold. She came to know director Hou Hsiao-hsien through her short story Growing Up, which he made into a film and launched a decades-long collaboration between the two. Creating literature thus led her to a second career in screenwriting, with her screenplays winning nominations and awards in the Golden Horse Awards and international film festivals.

Chu Tien-hsin, the younger sister, is romantic and direct, like a warrior woman who upholds justice. Songs of Rustic Pleasures, written when she was in high school, was a manifesto of freedom and became a must-read for youths of an entire generation, catching on like a wildfire spreading on the plain. While she writes of feelings and observations garnered from roaming city streets and alleys, she also turns her attention to social activism and issues of ethnic identity. Though history is sieved by time, her memory shines through bright and clear, and what has been carved with her pen shall survive and matter.

I Remember, directed by novelist Lin Chun-ying, documents the growth of the Chu sisters from the intimate viewpoint of a longtime family friend. It begins from their family home under the osmanthus tree, where the sisters studied with their mentor Hu Lan-cheng, met like-minded friends and started the San-san Jikan (“double three journal”). The camera follows them as they visit their old home in the military dependents community at Fengshan and cross the sea to pay their respects at Hu’s grave in Tokyo, all the while talking and laughing, sharing their thoughts on each other’s writings. Also captured on camera is the sisters weaving through streets and alleys to feed and take care of stray cats. They bare their hearts in the film, offering vignettes from their lives behind the literary achievements, lived as ordinary people in a way that is spontaneous, affable, warm and three-dimensional.

About the Director

Lin Chun-ying was born in 1960 in Beidou, Changhua County. He discovered the San-san journal while studying at the Municipal Taichung Second Senior High School. He graduated from the Department of Chinese Literature at National Chengchi University and earned a master’s degree in mass communication from Queens College, City University of New York. Having worked as copywriter, newspaper editor and in television, he is now a full-time writer.

His works of fiction include The Longest Summer, Smile on a Summer’s Night, Good Women, The Nostalgia That Dare Not Speak Its Name, So and So’s Dream and A Fierce Summer. His essays are collected in Mid-Summer Affairs.

In 2006 he was writer-in-residence at National Dong Hwa University. In 2012 he was invited to participate in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

Good Women was named one of the ten best books of the year in 2005 by China Times. His novels The Nostalgia That Dare Not Speak Its Name and So and So’s Dream both received the Taipei International Book Exhibition Prize and the Golden Tripod Award in 2012 and 2015, respectively. A Fierce Summer received the Taiwan Literature Golden Award in 2018.

More Photos from the Set

Chu Tien-wen and Chu Tien-hsin Chronology

Chu Tien-wen is born in Fengshan, Kaohsiung.
Chu Tien-hsin is born in the Huangpu New Village (for military dependents) in Fengshan, Kaohsiung
Chu Tien-wen begins writing in high school, publishing her stories in the United Daily News, China Daily News, and China Times.
While attending Taipei First Girls High School, Chu Tien-hsin begins writing fiction and essays, publishing mainly in China Times.
Chu Hsi-ning visits Hu Lang-cheng with daughters Chu Tien-wen and Chu Tien-hsin, marking the beginning of a long-term acquaintance; the meeting has profound influence on the sisters’ initiation to literature and their creative writing, inspiring them to launch the San-san Jikan (“double three journal”). Hu published articles in the journal under the pen name of Li Pan.
San-san Bookstore is founded, with Chu Tien-wen serving as publisher. Her collection of essays, Tamkang Chronicles, is published by San-san.
Chu Tien-wen’s short story “Eden No More” receives honorable mention at the 5th China Times Literary Award. She meets Chen Kun-hou and Hou Hsiao-hsien after winning the United Daily News “Stories of Love” competition with “Growing Up”, marking the beginning of her involvement in Taiwan’s New Wave Cinema and her screenwriting career. Chu Tien-hsin takes over operations of San-san Bookstore. After the publication of 12 issues, the San-san Jikan is discontinued in August.
Chu Tien-wen completes the screenplay for The Boys from Fengkuei, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien. The film wins the Golden Montgolfiere the following year at the Nantes Three Continents Festival. Growing Up wins best picture, best director, and best adapted screenplay in the 20th Golden Horse Awards. A collection of Chu Tien-wen’s prose writing, Growing Up, is published by San-san Bookstore.
Chu Tien-wen publishes a short story collection, My Favorite Season (San-san Bookstore), and completes the screenplays for Out of the Blue and A Summer at Grandpa’s. A Summer at Grandpa’s is shot at the home of her maternal grandfather in Tongluo, Miaoli, and directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien, again receiving the Golden Montgolfiere at the Nantes Three Continents Festival. The San-san Choir disbands. Chu Tien-hsin publishes The Diaries of NTU Student Kuan Lin, a collection of short stories. In October, Chu Tien-hsin weds Tang Nuo.
Chu Tien-wen, Chu Tien-hsin and Chu Tien-yi publish their collected essays in Three Sisters (Crown Publishing). Chu Tien-wen’s screenplay for A Time to Live, A Time to Die wins best original screenplay at the 22nd Golden Horse Awards. Chu Tien-wen works on the screenplay for Taipei Story with Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien.
Dust in the Wind, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien with screenplay by Chu Tien-wen and Wu Nien-jen, is released.
A City of Sadness, screenplay written by Chu Tien-wen and Wu Nien-jen, is published (San-san Bookstore). Hou Hsiao-hsien directs the movie, which receives the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. Chu Tien-hsin publishes I Remember (San-san Bookstore/Yuan-Liou Publishing), a collection of short stories.
Chu Tien-wen publishes a collection of short stores, Fin de siècle Splendor (San-san Bookstore/Yuan-Liou Publishing). Chu Tien-hsin wins the 9th Hong Hsing-fu Prize for Fiction for her short story “Once Upon a Time There Was a Man Named Pu-tao Tai-lang”.
Chu Tien-wen’s novel Notes of a Desolate Man wins the China Times Million Dollar Prize for Fiction and is published by China Times Publishing. Chu Tien-hsin publishes a collection of essays, Meng-meng Learns to Fly (China Times Publishing), and a collection of critical commentary, The Weekly Political Journal of a Novelist (China Times Publishing).
Chu Tien-wen publishes Ultimate Dream: The Making of Flowers of Shanghai (Yuan-Liou Publishing). The movie, for which she wrote the screenplay, is directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien and selected for competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Chu Tien-hsin receives the jury prize from the 21st China Times Literary Award for The Old Capital.
The movie Three Times, for which Chu Tien-wen wrote the screenplay, is named Taiwanese Film of the Year at the 42nd Golden Horse Awards and is selected for competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Chu Tien-hsin publishes The Hunters (Ink Publishing), a collection of prose writings, and Song of Cai-wei (Guangzhou: Flower City Press), a short story collection.
Chu Tien-wen publishes Witch’s Brew (Ink Publishing), a full-length novel, and writes the screenplay for Flight of the Red Balloon. The film is directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien by invitation of the Musée d'Orsay and opened the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. Chu Tien-hsin’s The Old Capital is translated into English and published (New York: Columbia University Press).
Chu Tien-wen’s Witch’s Brew receives the Jury Award at the 2nd The Dream of the Red Chamber Award. The Collected Works of Chu Tien-wen, (9 volumes, Ink Publishing) is compiled and published this same year.
Chu Tien-wen is awarded the 4th Newman Prize for Chinese Literature. The Assassin, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien and adapted from a Tang chuanqi (short story) by Chu Tien-wen, Zhong Acheng and Hsieh Hai-meng, is an official selection in the main competition section at the Cannes Film Festival and wins best picture at the 52nd Golden Horse Awards. Chu Tien-hsin publishes her long-form prose A Dream of Thirty-three Years (Ink Publishing).
I Remember, the documentary film on Chu Tien-wen and Chu Tien-hsin, is officially released.