Hou Hsiao-hsien’s strikingly beautiful martial arts piece The Assassin—the Taiwanese great’s first feature in eight years—was a standout at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it picked up the Best Director award. The Taipei Times is reporting that Hou and his longtime writing partner, Chu Tien-wen, are already preparing their next film, which will again star Shu Qi, who plays the title role in The Assassin and previously starred in Hou’s Three Times and Millennium Mambo.
Details about the new project emerged during a seminar held as part of a Hou retrospective at the Royal Belgian Film Archive in Brussels. Shu will play an ancient river goddess who is discovered in Taipei during an study of the city’s subterranean waterways. Though the fantastic premise singles out the as-yet-untitled film as something of a departure—or the latest in a series of departures—it will mark the first time Hou has set an entire feature in modern-day Taiwan since 2001.