Tsai floods Taipei for 'Face'

...and welcomes French star Fanny Ardant to Taiwan

BANGKOK -- Taiwanese film auteur Tsai Ming-liang is spending a few days flooding part of Taipei in his rush to finish shooting "Face" in time for its planned premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

The deluge of Taipei's Hua Shan art district is done by a large crew operating Heavy pumps arranged by the Taipei Film Commission and the city government that push out water at 600 tons of pressure in scenes that take three hours of preparation.

In a dry moment on Tuesday, the new wave director welcomed veteran French actress Fanny Ardant to Taipei to publicize her role in the film about a Taiwanese director who travels to the Louvre in Paris to shoot a film that explores the Salomé myth.

"I am a strange director," said Tsai, whose "The Wayward Cloud" won the Silver Bear at Berlin in 2005, according to a press conference transcript from the film commission. "[The Louvre staff] knows that the film will be something out of the left field. The [flood scene] is my nightmare – but my nightmares become my films."

"Face" will be the first film made a part of the permanent collection at the Louvre, where Tsai shot part of the movie before moving on to the funeral parlors of Taipei.

Ardant, who won a Silver Bear at Berlin in 2002 for her role in "8 Femmes," was in Taiwan for the first time.  While directing her first film ("Cendres et Sang") Ardant also played the producer for the film-within-the-film in "Face" and also acted the role of Queen Herodias.

"All these different responsibilities tied to one person is very complex.  [I try] to present the complicated feelings, the stress and joys of making a film from so many different perspectives," Ardant said through a French-Chinese interpreter, the transcript showed.

Also starring in the film are Lee Kang-Sheng, Mathieu Amalric, Jeanne Moreau, and Yang Kuei-Mei, among others.