Taipei’s history—at least as a teeming metropolis—is not long; the city’s population exploded after 1949, when the Kuomintang government arrived in flight from Mainland China after losing the Civil War. Perhaps because of this relative youth, many Taiwanese filmmakers depicting Taipei seem to dwell on the aspects of city life that we regard as distinctly contemporary conditions: the atomization of community, the disappearance of tradition, the impersonality of faceless corporate architecture. (The title of Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s 1989 film A City of Sadness is revealing.) None of these conditions, of course, are unique to Taipei—we are all in Cities of Sadness, now—it’s just that certain Taiwanese filmmakers understood them earlier, and more eloquently. And while the films in this series may depict the cruelty of life in Taipei, their careful documentation of the city and compassionate regard for its people betrays a complicated affection that goes much deeper than civic boosterism.