Save

Where in the World are Chinese Women Filmmakers? Transnational China and World Cinema in the Twenty-First Century

In: Studies in World Cinema
Author:
Gina MarchettiThe University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, marchett@hku.hk

Search for other papers by Gina Marchetti in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Open Access

Abstract

Transnational Chinese women filmmakers reflect the enormous changes happening in the global film industry as well as political, economic, technological, social, and cultural transformations taking place in the region since the beginning of the millennium. An analysis of Hong Kong writer-director Aubrey Lam’s Anna & Anna (2007) uncovers how this film explores the divided psyche of a woman torn between “two systems” that model femininity for women in Singapore and Shanghai in the 21st century. Lam’s narrative touches on issues central to the work of many women working across the Chinese-speaking world including migration, labor relations, postcolonial and postsocialist identities, commodification of female bodies in consumer culture, cross-border sexualities, female desire and domesticity.

Abstract

Transnational Chinese women filmmakers reflect the enormous changes happening in the global film industry as well as political, economic, technological, social, and cultural transformations taking place in the region since the beginning of the millennium. An analysis of Hong Kong writer-director Aubrey Lam’s Anna & Anna (2007) uncovers how this film explores the divided psyche of a woman torn between “two systems” that model femininity for women in Singapore and Shanghai in the 21st century. Lam’s narrative touches on issues central to the work of many women working across the Chinese-speaking world including migration, labor relations, postcolonial and postsocialist identities, commodification of female bodies in consumer culture, cross-border sexualities, female desire and domesticity.

At the 2021 Academy Awards, Chloé Zhao took center stage as the first ethnic Chinese woman to receive top honors as Best Director. At a time of unprecedented violence against Asian women in Europe and America rooted largely in discontent with mainland China’s initial handling of the covid-19 crisis, Zhao made film history by sweeping major awards with Nomadland (2020). Beginning with the Golden Lion at the 77th Venice International Film Festival in September 2020, she proceeded to gather top honors from the British Academy, Golden Globes, People’s Choice in Toronto, Directors Guild of America and a slew of other professional bodies. Moreover, the pioneering Zhao, born in Beijing and based in the United States, has company. When she picked up the Golden Lion in Venice, another female filmmaker born in mainland China, Ann Hui,1 based in Hong Kong, received a lifetime achievement award at the same festival. In fact, ethnic Chinese women filmmakers working transnationally have been gaining increasing recognition globally. Zhao has been hired for Hollywood’s big budget comic book extravaganza Eternals (2021) and Cathy Yan, also born in mainland China, directed Birds of Prey (2020). Lulu Wang, born in Beijing, continues to work on major film and television projects in the wake of her critical success with The Farewell (2019).

As trade wars and the covid pandemic shut down co-productions, limit theatrical distribution, and restrict creative exchange, female directors take the lead in China’s domestic box office with Jia Ling’s Hi, Mom (2021) at the top. With an uptick in international subscriptions, Netflix picked up Rene Liu’s romantic melodrama Us and Them (2018) for global streaming. Domestic hits made by women spill over into wider markets, and world cinema expands to accommodate them.

The 2017 #MeToo movement gripped China as it spread across the Internet. Represented by the homophone characters for “rice” and “bunny” to evade mainland Chinese censorship, the movement gave added global visibility to women in the Chinese film industry and educational system. In fact, several films by Chinese women filmmakers, made before the Harvey Weinstein revelations roiled world cinema from Hollywood to Hong Kong, pointed to the sexual mistreatment of women and girls inside and outside of the motion picture industry (Martin, 2021). For example, Yang Mingming wrote, directed, and performed in two films about young women navigating a fraught sexual environment as they attempt to enter China’s motion picture industry, Female Directors (2012) and Girls Always Happy (2018). (Figure 1) Reflecting on the violent mistreatment of young women, Nanfu Wang’s documentary Hooligan Sparrow (2016)2 and Vivian Qu’s fiction feature Angels Wear White (2017) reference an egregious case of child rape in Hainan Province and its subsequent cover-up. Wang’s documentary also reflects on the difficulties of bringing a feminist voice to screen conversations about sexual exploitation when confronted by the displeasure of the Chinese state. (Figure 2)

Figure 1
Figure 1

The camera shows Yang Mingming’s fragmented image in Female Directors graphically capturing the feeling of being ripped apart by her ambitions to make films. Frame grab.

Citation: Studies in World Cinema 1, 2 (2021) ; 10.1163/26659891-01020002

Figure 2
Figure 2

Nanfu Wang with her camera in Hooligan Sparrow. Frame grab.

Citation: Studies in World Cinema 1, 2 (2021) ; 10.1163/26659891-01020002

In fact, women filmmakers have always inhabited the world of Chinese cinema. The importance of female filmmakers to the development of China’s national cinema in the mainland as well as in key industries based in Hong Kong and Taiwan cannot be denied, and scholars such as Zhang Zhen,3 S. Louisa Wei (2009), Lingzhen Wang (2020), Felicia Chan (2016), Audrey Yue (2010), Helen Leung (2009), Stacilee Ford (2009), Cui Shuqin (2003), Dai Jinhua (2002), Yau Ching (2004), Chris Berry (1988), and Fran Martin (2010), among others, continue to make inroads into charting the historical legacy as well as ongoing contributions of women to Chinese-language film.

However, just where Chinese women directors fit within world cinema merits further reflection. In 2015, Patricia White published Women’s Cinema, World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms. In it, she spotlights the noteworthy breakthroughs women filmmakers have made in contemporary world cinema. However, the fact that many other books on world cinema fail to mention these women gives pause. Women filmmakers seem to inhabit their own sequestered world. Even when their films circulate widely in commercial or art film circuits, their collective efforts do not receive the same critical attention as their male peers. The occasional female auteur may be recognized, but, the annals of “world cinema” largely remain closed to women. Even though Chinese-speaking male directors such as Wong Kar-wai, Zhang Yimou, and Tsai Ming-Liang take pride of place in conversations about world cinema, established female auteurs such as Clara Law, Mabel Cheung, Sylvia Chang, and Ning Ying remain largely out of the picture. The implication of this seems clear. Chinese women directors may contribute to local industries and regional circuits, but their films fail to make the grade as “world” class. It appears that for these women to be included in the world of cinema that either they or the world needs to change. Indeed, the scholarly world may be lagging behind the festival circuit and commercial industry funding Cathy Yan, praising Chloé Zhao, and festooning Ann Hui with awards.

Patricia White changes the world of cinema by making it one peopled exclusively by female filmmakers. In this world, ethnic Chinese women directors do significantly better. White celebrates Taiwan’s Zero Chou for her contribution to world cinema as an adept stylist of “network narratives” (2015: 133). Chou’s films explore lesbianism in Taiwan and form a vital part of a queer wave of filmmaking in post-martial law Taiwan. White’s volume challenges others to grapple with the contribution women directors from the Chinese-speaking world have made and continue to make to world cinema extending beyond national borders, regional circuits, and domestic markets. In her 2016 essay, “First, Not Only: Writing Chinese Women’s Film Authorship,” Felicia Chan critiques the straightjackets of authorship, patriarchy, and nationhood, which have kept women filmmakers from their rightful place in Chinese film history. Critics, historians, archivists, programmers, and publishers manning the gates of contemporary world cinema too often remain blind to the past record and current accomplishments of Chinese women filmmakers because of these narrow conceptual frames.

Inspired by White and Chan as well as the phenomenal success of filmmakers such as Chloé Zhao, this essay provides a critical appraisal of the contributions key ethnic Chinese women filmmakers have made to world cinema since 2000. The millennium marks a turning point when scholars began to lament the “death” of cinema in the throes of the digital revolution, which, ironically, paved the way for more women to make films because of the new technologies. Riding a wave of rising East Asian tiger economies and the opening of the People’s Republic of China (prc) in the late-1970s/early 1980s, Chinese film blossomed commercially and, with the easing of political restrictions in post-martial law Taiwan and Reform Era mainland China, artistically. New opportunities opened for women filmmakers, reflecting the enormous changes happening in the global film industry as well as political, economic, technological, social, and cultural transformations happening in the region with the so-called “rise of China”4 and its impact on a world film culture.

This “rise of China” has tilted the world toward the mainland, and world cinema follows. The People’s Republic entered the World Trade Organization (wto) in 2001, and this seems an apt year to begin to look at the ways Chinese women filmmakers make sense of this new role the prc government has forged for itself on the world stage. Lisa Rofel (2007: 159) notes that the creation of a “desiring” China around this time had both domestic and international implications:

The goal of the negotiations over China’s entry into the wto was to craft a ‘desiring China’ that would not only cultivate an internal desiring machine yielding endlessly proliferating desires for foreign goods and services but also turn China into an object which others could desire freely, without obstruction.

Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2012, articulates this more broadly in his statements on the “China Dream,” and this rhetoric shapes the various ways in which gender figures in the new economy. Women filmmakers have inserted themselves into this post-wto “desiring” machine in various ways across the Chinese-speaking world and within the global film marketplace.

In charting this world, Shih Shu-mei’s concept of the “Sinophone” provides a crucial way of understanding how these filmmakers navigate global cinema geopolitically as well as geographically (2007). Emphasizing the Chinese-speaking world outside the borders of mainland China, Shih extends the Sinophone beyond spoken and written language to include “visuality” rooted in specific ways of seeing. Sinophone women directors coming from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and throughout the diaspora envision the world in a particular way by complicating the intersection of ethnicity, nationality, language, and gender. Mobility defines the world of many of these female directors who routinely operate transnationally. Zhao’s Nomadland provides just one example of the ways in which these roving filmmakers embrace a craft that extends beyond the Chinese language as well as the borders of the People’s Republic (Marchetti, 2021). The world of transnational Chinese female directors offers an alternative to the putative definition of the “world” of filmmaking as white, male, and Eurocentric or as tilted by the economic ascendency of the People’s Republic of China. A byproduct of this process results in an expanded notion of “world cinema” that considers what takes a film outside of a local, national, or regional market into a “world” that includes but transcends those other categories.

Where Chinese women fit in this cinematic global landscape also brings to the forefront the ways in which world film norms, conventions, and expectations transform the women making films today. Women make world cinema, but the movie world also puts limits on filmmakers’ ability to finance, produce, distribute, publicize, and exhibit their work. In her 2015 book, Patricia White gets to the heart of the relationship between women filmmakers and contemporary world cinema by highlighting questions of authorship, festival circulation, art film and aesthetics, screen feminism, national/transnational interventions, female desire, and democracy and women’s rights. She, thus, provides a catalogue of the topics and aesthetic strategies that contemporary women filmmakers employ to enter the ranks and make their mark on world screens.

Following White’s lead, this essay expands her initial foray into the world of contemporary Chinese women filmmakers by surveying the common themes that emerge in their work. Cutting across national borders and often working on transnational co-productions, these women filmmakers take up questions of concern to world audiences that reflect local circumstances as part of the processes of globalization. Immigration, labor relations, body image, postmodern consumer culture, cross-border sexualities, domesticity, feminism and democracy go beyond the concerns of women in the prc, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora to address fundamental questions facing men and women globally. Aesthetic strategies, including the use of cinematic citations, observational camera techniques, as well as flashbacks and disjointed narratives bring these films in conversation with world cinema standards set by top international festivals such as Cannes, while offering particular insights into the transnational tendencies within Chinese-speaking women’s filmmaking practices. Exploring the ways in which these women negotiate between art and commerce, political engagement and personal expression, in order to maintain careers in a world dominated by men offers another path to thinking about why women seem not to “hold up half” of Chinese screens in contemporary film culture.

After surveying these contributions to world cinema, a shift to looking at a neglected film by Aubrey Lam, Anna & Anna (2007), uncovers the way in which a film by a Hong Kong-based director explores the divided psyche of a woman torn between “two systems” that model femininity for women in Singapore and Shanghai in the twenty-first century. This cosmopolitan portrait of female alienation experienced by border-crossing women in transnational China speaks to a world in which women continue to struggle with the demands of patriarchal traditions, consumer culture, and impossible idealizations of feminine virtue.

1 Considering Chinese Women Filmmakers as Global Auteurs

Confirmed by their success in Venice as well as other major international competitions, Chloé Zhao and Ann Hui represent a vanguard of Chinese women filmmakers who have gradually begun to enter the ranks of world cinema as “auteurs”—recognized by their distinctive authorial “brand,” critical accolades, nods from the global press, international academic interest or pedagogical utility. The vast majority of Chinese women filmmakers do not fall into this category and remain outside the orbit of world cinema as a consequence. However, the recognition of the importance of the Chinese market, the talent of transnational filmmakers working within and beyond the Chinese-speaking world, and the global visibility of sexual inequality and gender bias in the wake of #MeToo pushes world cinema in new directions. Increasingly, female filmmakers travel outside Chinese-speaking circles or the Asian region as transnational film professionals. This essay focuses on women who straddle the shifting territory between “transnational” and “world” cinema as their work gains critical, scholarly, and popular recognition within the global industry and international film festival circuit.

These women from the Chinese-speaking world expand the narrow circle of “world cinema” by pushing back on a Euro-American definition of the term. Film scholars traditionally defined “world” cinema as a collection of national cinemas or often as just “not Hollywood.” However, that definition has been revised and refined. For example, the subtitle of Shohini Chaudhuri’s 2005 book emphasizes regional divisions: “Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and South Asia.” Ella Shohat and Robert Stam pivot away from Europe in their 1994 book, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. However, increasingly, the idea of world cinema has not simply expanded to include Africa, Latin America, and the “fourth world” of indigenous peoples, but also transcended national and regional classifications as Shohat and Stam’s emphasis on radical multiculturalism asserts. John Hess and Patricia R. Zimmermann (1997) along with Nataša Ďurovičová and Kathleen Newman (2010) emphasize the transnational as a way of conceiving of a new world view for filmmakers whose vision goes beyond national borders and who look for new ways of connecting with other filmmakers and audiences globally as a result. In his 1997 anthology, Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender, Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu demonstrates the transnational plurality of Chinese cinemas, and Hamid Naficy’s “accented” cinema similarly highlights the importance of diasporic, exilic, and immigrant filmmaking within world cinema (2001). When Dudley Andrew (2004) created his “atlas” of world cinema, Stephanie Dennison and Song Hwee Lim (2006) were already redrawing the map.

World cinema now serves as a framework to tease out the transnational production networks, international citations, cross-cultural allusions, aesthetic hybridity, and strong regional forces that have always been a part of the development of the film medium. When the Lumière Brothers’ corporation brought motion pictures to the world in the late 19th century, capitalism, colonialism and imperialism, as Marx and Engels (2000) pointed out earlier in their Communist Manifesto, had already broken down all “Chinese walls” to the global flow of commodities:

The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls… It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

World cinema followed in the cultural footsteps of Goethe’s “world literature,” and, also, as a commodity, much like others, films circulated, bought and sold, with women (in China and elsewhere) cultivated as image consumers, reproduced as popular stars, but excluded from most positions of creative authority in the process.

The subtitle of Lingzhen Wang’s 2011 anthology, Chinese Women’s Cinema: Transnational Contexts, notes the crucial role these transnational networks play in the careers of Chinese women filmmakers. She draws on Grewal and Kaplan’s (1994) call for a “transnational” feminist practice in order to “scatter” the hegemony exerted by Euro-American feminism in theory and political practice as a “global” politics with Europe and America “first” among the sisterhood of nations. Editors at Public Culture (Pollock, Bhabha, Breckenridge and Chakrabarty, 2000: 584–585) have gestured in a similar direction by theorizing a “cosmofeminism” that merges feminism’s political plurality with cosmopolitanism’s view to a world beyond the nation:

Any cosmofeminism would have to create a critically engaged space that is not just a screen for globalization or an antidote to nationalism but is rather a focus on projects of the intimate sphere conceived as a part of the cosmopolitan…we would have the cosmofeminine as the sign of an argument for a situated universalism that invites other universalisms into a broader debate based on a recognition of their own situatedness.

As world cinema tilts away from Europe and America and becomes more inclusive of women filmmakers, Wang’s call to consider Chinese women’s filmmaking within the context of transnational feminism makes considerable sense, particularly as these female filmmakers travel increasingly far and frequently beyond not simply the nation-state but also well outside the Sinosphere.

In the twenty-first century, Chinese women filmmakers address a world on screen through the Internet, at a growing variety of film festivals beyond the A-list (from Udine to Vancouver), and through increasingly transnational networks with production and post-production often separated by continents. In other words, they operate as women in a very different cinematic environment than filmmakers experienced in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and even the early years of the twenty-first century. It is this “world” of world cinema that these film artists share with their global peers, and they bring a particular agenda of issues of concern to Chinese women to world screens. These women know the world through the process of making their films transnationally or within cosmopolitan production contexts in cities such as Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, or New York. Scattered around the world, many embrace migrant, nomadic, diasporic, exilic identities, which become a critical component of how they envision the world and their place in it as well. Focusing on their oeuvres not only expands cinema’s world view, it also substantially transforms it by highlighting female perspectives on issues of global concern.

In fact, transnational Chinese women filmmakers have themselves reflected on questions of authorship in their own work. Particularly in the postmodern self-reflexive turn of twenty-first century media culture, this takes many forms, but is perhaps clearest in Chinese women filmmakers’ interest in stories about other creative women. Anna & Anna, for example, gives one version of its eponymous character an artistic vocation in order to reflect on the role female artists play in crafting identities for women in a rapidly evolving Chinese-speaking world. Ann Hui’s The Golden Era (2014), a biography of female writer Xiao Hong, who was born in Northeast China and died in Hong Kong, looks at the relatively short career of one of China’s most celebrated leftwing novelists of the Republican era (Marchetti, 2017b). Parallels between director Hui, born in Anshan, Manchuria, also in the Northeast, who makes her home in Hong Kong, and Xiao Hong as narrative artists on the move throughout the Chinese-speaking world enrich The Golden Era with extra-textual resonances.

Female documentarists take up other notable women working in transnational Chinese literary and film circles (Marchetti, 2019). Angie Chen’s One Tree Three Lives (2012) on writer Hualing Nieh Engle and S. Louisa Wei’s Golden Gate Girls (2013) on filmmaker Esther Eng provide two examples. Wei does a particularly fine job of contrasting her own career as a filmmaker with Eng’s efforts. Strong ties bind the female apprentice filmmakers in Sandi Tan’s Shirkers (2018) as they recreate the events that prevented the completion of what promised to be a pioneering Singaporean feature. Fiction films, such as Mak Yan-Yan’s Butterfly (2004), deal with female creative artists as well. In Butterfly, for example, women develop networks through music, literature and filmmaking, which parallel connections they make based on lesbian erotic desires and political necessity as the characters move between Macau and Hong Kong in the years leading up to the 1989 Tian’anmen crisis and the years after the Hong Kong Handover (Marchetti, 2016). These self-reflexive ruminations on female authorship and key political events in transnational China create strong intersectional currents in works by women directors.

2 From the Twentieth to the Twenty-First Century

The world of cinema, in fact, has always included Chinese women. They have been involved in the art and industry of the cinema since the silent era. Chinese American female filmmakers such as Esther Eng (Golden Gate Girl, 1941) or Marion Wong (The Curse of Quon Gwon, 1916), for example, testify to the fact that women filmmakers worked within the Chinese diaspora as well. Perhaps some know a woman, Wang Ping, directed The East Is Red (1965),5 and Hong Kong’s Tang Shu Shuen did make waves in the festival circuit with her debut The Arch (1969).6 However, their world was limited by their gender, their race, their national, minority, or colonial status, their political associations, and/or the constraints of the Chinese-speaking circles in which they worked.

However, their “world” was never quite the world of world cinema until the advent of the Asian new waves. Women’s association with these movements allowed them to rise with the tide of critical and curatorial interest in specific national cinemas and recognized auteurs into the light of the arthouse and festival circuits. Beginning in 1979, the launch of the Hong Kong New Wave included Ann Hui’s debut feature, The Secret. Although Hui resisted the New Wave label and declined to define herself as an “auteur” early in her career, she, nonetheless, is one of the few women working in Chinese-language cinema to be recognized as a “world” figure as her 2020 Venice life achievement award confirms.

Mainland Chinese filmmakers of the putative Fourth Generation, who had been educated before the Cultural Revolution and made their debuts in the 1980s, included notable female directors such as Zhang Nuanxin (Sacrificed Youth, 1986), Lu Xiaoya (The Girl in Red, 1985), and Huang Shuqin (Woman, Demon Human, 1987). With the “opening” of the People’s Republic in 1978, their work emerged as part of friendship programs, special festival screenings, and in other international venues around the same time that the Fifth Generation’s films began to take the international film festival circuit by storm. Often eclipsed by their male peers, Fifth Generation women directors screened their films at international festivals, and many gained considerable acclaim, including Hu Mei (Army Nurse, 1985), Peng Xiaolian (Three Women, 1987), Li Shaohong (Blush, 1995), and Liu Miaomiao (Chatterbox, 1993). Some, for example Ning Ying (For Fun, 1993), have strong transnational ties (in her case to Italy), which allow them to move more easily in cosmopolitan circles.

As Taiwan liberalized under Chiang Ching-kuo before the eventual end of martial law in 1987, Taiwan New Cinema, supported by the kmt (Nationalist) government, brought a fresh perspective to the screen. Scriptwriter Chu T’ien-wen played a prominent role in the careers of its most acclaimed directors, Hou Hsiao-hsien (Growing Up, 1983) and Edward Yang (Taipei Story, 1985). In addition, although not always considered a part of the movement, Sylvia Chang (Passion, 1986), a celebrated actress associated with Taiwan New Cinema, began to direct features around the same time. Taiwan’s acclaimed festival Women Make Waves has been running since 1993 with filmmaker Huang Yu-shan as a driving force behind it. In the late 1980s, female directors, associated with Hong Kong’s Second Wave, including Mabel Cheung (Illegal Immigrant, 1985) and Clara Law (The Other Half and the Other Half, 1988), both with strong overseas connections, made their debut features.

Mainland China’s Sixth Generation includes several women filmmakers who began their careers after the 1989 Tian’anmen crackdown. Some graduated from the Beijing Film Academy, while others started in cinema as actresses or came from television, theatre, or the visual arts. Many took up taboo subject matter, such as lesbian sexuality (Li Yu, Fish and Elephant, 2001), the aftereffects of the June Fourth crackdown (Emily Tang [Tang Xiaobai], Conjugation, 2001), and the impact of neoliberal reforms on the lives of women migrant workers (Li Hong, Out Of Phoenix Bridge, 1997).

As the Sixth Generation branches out from the “underground” into what has been called the urban or iGeneration of digital filmmakers (Johnson, Wagner, Yu and Vulpiani, 2014), women, such as Liu Jiayin, have garnered considerable recognition for their contributions to film art. Liu’s Oxhide won awards at Berlin in 2005, and Oxhide ii had its premiere at the prestigious Director’s Fortnight at Cannes in 2009. Filming in the cramped quarters of her family’s apartment in Beijing, Liu extends the observational style associated with the approach of many of her male peers and takes an autobiographical turn. Liu takes a self-reflexive look at her own filmmaking craft in relation to the vicissitudes of the family’s leather handbag business. Following on Liu’s international success, Fang Song, who had worked as an actress in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Flight of the Red Balloon (2007), has also shown her semi-autobiographical film, Memories Look at Me (2012), in major European film festivals.

However, even moving along with the new waves associated with various generations of Chinese-language filmmakers, women still find themselves slightly out of the orbit of world cinema. Most of these female directors received a formal education in the art of the motion picture, with instruction in the classics of world cinema as defined by their locale, as well as apprenticeships with established senior figures in the industry with regional or international ties. Although they all have films that have circulated outside of Asia, most are not considered “world class” auteurs by critics, scholars, distributors, and other international gatekeepers.

Aubrey Lam, the director of Anna & Anna, provides one example of a transnational female filmmaker who arguably has not received the same international recognition as her male peers with similar cinematic profiles. Like Ann Hui, Lam went to the University of Hong Kong before going abroad (to Los Angeles in Lam’s case) to study film. She returned to Hong Kong and took classes offered by the Film Directors’ Guild before embarking on a career as a scriptwriter. She advanced in the industry through her collaborations with producer-director Peter Chan, who had also gone to the United States to study film and had strong commercial ties to Southeast Asia as well as mainland China. In fact, several of her scripted films for Peter Chan, such as Perhaps Love (2005) and American Dreams in China (2013), have received more critical and commercial interest than her own directing efforts.

Lam’s cosmopolitan outlook resonated with her mentor Chan’s vision, and this worldly sensibility also can be seen in many of the films she wrote and directed. Her debut, Twelve Nights (2000), about a disintegrating marriage, cites Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (1973). Her next feature, Hidden Track(2003), takes its inspiration from Italo Calvino’s 1979 novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Even her more recent comedies, The Truth about Beauty (2014) and Love without Distance (2015) place her Chinese-speaking characters in conversation with standards of female beauty, romance, and sexuality that reflect her cosmopolitan outlook. As a director based in Hong Kong who often works in mainland China and other parts of the Chinese-speaking world, her perspective takes on a transnational inflection that reflects the unique position of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (hksar) as a former British colony now under mainland Chinese sovereignty.

3 Chinese Women Filmmakers Between Two Systems: The Double Life of Anna & Anna

Politics, of course, divides the world inhabited by Chinese women directors, and Hong Kong occupies a particularly fraught position. With waves of protests rocking Hong Kong in 2003 over the Article 23 anti-sedition legislation, 2012 National Education, the 2014 Umbrella Movement for universal suffrage, and the 2019 anti-elab Movement against proposed extradition legislation,7 the “one country, two systems” policy that defines the Special Administrative Regions (sar) of Hong Kong and Macau continues to be hotly debated across the Chinese-speaking world and beyond. Originally designed to reintegrate Taiwan (Republic of China) into “one country” by offering “two systems,” the island has said “no” to the scheme repeatedly with a firm reiteration by Taiwan’s first female president Tsai Ing-wen in 2020 (France24). Particularly with the implementation of the National Security Law (nsl) in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, focus on the integrity of China as “one country” has overtaken the development of Hong Kong’s “second system” that promised a “high degree of autonomy” from Beijing. The extraterritorial provision that allows for anyone anywhere on the planet to run afoul of the law at any time makes it difficult to think through the differences between the two systems. The implication of those economic, cultural, social, and political differences in various state systems for women living under Chinese sovereignty and beyond intensifies women’s struggles with male violence, gender bias, and sexual inequality.

Since the 1997 Handover, Hong Kong female documentary filmmakers have devoted themselves to questions of democratic process, public representation, political oppression, and exile. Tammy Cheung, for example, has made feature documentaries, July (2004) and Election (2008), which devote considerable attention to women in Hong Kong’s political arena (Marchetti, 2017a). Several female directors made films about the experience of women in the 2014 Umbrella Movement, notably Nora Lam’s Midnight in Mong Kok (2014) and Nate Chan’s Do You Hear the Women Sing? (2014). In A Tiny Handheld Camera (2014), the female filmmaker Liu To confronts the Hong Kong police as a moving example of women standing up for their right to occupy public space and serve as witnesses of political dissent during the demonstrations. Zeng Jinyan’s Outcry and Whisper (2020, with Huang Wenhai and Trish McAdam) connects Zeng’s personal journey as a feminist activist with the women’s labor movement in the prc and the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. Female documentarist Kanas Liu has made several short films about the 2019 protests showing women protesters taking to the streets to agitate for political change.

In fact, women directors from the prc, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other parts of the Chinese-speaking world navigate more than two systems. The omnibus feature, Sunflower Occupation (2014), documenting demonstrations against closer cross-Straits ties between the prc and Taiwan, includes women filmmakers’ perspectives on the student-led takeover of the legislature in Taipei, and Fu Yue’s Our Youth in Taiwan (2018) provides an intimate look at the lives of several Taiwanese activists. Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore with Love (2013) contains female exiles in a documentary on political refugees living in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Thailand unable to return to Singapore without facing incarceration.

Mainland Chinese women filmmakers dramatize stories about women, migration, and the divided nature of the state in fiction features. For example, Liu Shu’s debut film, Lotus (2012), takes a dark look at the life of a migrant to Beijing harassed by a sexually predatory policeman. However, the eponymous Lotus has an alter-ego with a very different narrative trajectory. When her pampered, married double emerges at the film’s conclusion, it comes as a bit of a shock. This Lotus appears to be everything that her double resisted, since the double used her sexuality to get ahead rather than resist male advances.

Moving across provincial borders as well as national boundaries, Chinese women prove to be what Aihwa Ong (1999) terms “flexible citizens,” so the fact that filmmakers such as Liu Shu should be drawn to stories featuring female doppelgangers comes as no surprise. Indeed, Jean Ma (2003: 21) notes that the doppelganger haunts Chinese filmmakers generally:

Themes of multiple identity and uncanny repetition pervade contemporary Chinese-language cinema. While the strategy of doubling can take many forms, from doppelgangers to split personalities to sci-fi replicants, these films demonstrate a shared fascination with the idea of a single body inhabited by dual identities, conveyed through the use of a single actor to represent plural characters.

Hong Kong-based director Aubrey Lam treats the topic in her feature Anna & Anna (2007), but, conveniently, keeps her politically fractious hometown out of the picture by locating her divided heroine in Singapore and Shanghai. In fact, Hong Kong women filmmakers have made several films about divided heroines, including Clara Law’s Like a Dream (2009), Susie Au’s Ming Ming (2007), Ann Hui’s Visible Secret (2001), and Carol Lai’s The Second Woman (2012). Living in “one country” with “two systems” and working transnationally across Chinese-language cinemas, these Hong Kong directors dramatize existential fragmentation through doubled female protagonists who symbolize the fractured nature of patriarchy, capitalism, and nationalism in stories about identity crises that traverse genders, sexualities, ethnicities, and borders.

While many of these films follow in the tradition of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Anna & Anna has more in common with Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Double Life of Véronique (1991). Kieślowski’s post-Cold War rumination on European identity features a single actress playing a dual role—Irène Jacob as Polish Weronika and French Véronique. Reading the film allegorically as a fable about the post-socialist East and the capitalist West, the women represent the “double life” of Europe at a certain level. Similarly, Aubrey Lam’s split protagonist allegorizes two versions of China as an internal battle over the feminine psyche in the Chinese-speaking world. Hong Kong stays out of the picture for a reason, since it appears to be too close to home as a city with a hard border connecting it to and separating it from the People’s Republic. However, the stress of Anna’s divided identity as well as its potential promise structures the film and places Hong Kong women’s dilemma within the context of the broader Sinophone world. (Figure 3)

Figure 3
Figure 3

Anna and Anna doubled in a mirror shot visually emphasizing the film’s key theme of the female doppelganger in a divided Chinese-speaking world. Frame grab.

Citation: Studies in World Cinema 1, 2 (2021) ; 10.1163/26659891-01020002

In fact, Anna & Anna seems to reference the specter of the “two systems” as the internal tension expressed in Deng Xiaoping’s vision of mainland China’s neoliberal reforms, “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Anna & Anna speaks to a division between socialist values and Chinese national identity that haunts the fundamentally different environments of Singapore and Shanghai. Moving between two distinct Chinese-speaking cities, the film sets up a parallel structure in which the dual character, Anna from Singapore/Mok Si Yu from Shanghai (Karena Lam), associated with each city appears at first to be diametrically opposed to her lookalike, but, in fact, turns out to be two aspects of a single person. This revelation extends beyond the drama of the fluid ego boundaries often found in stories about women and their doubles. Rather, as the two women turn out to be more than interchangeable, but, in fact, actually the same character with different narrative trajectories, the two cities, ostensibly so different, come to represent the same authoritarian confines suffocating each Anna. Gender hierarchies, competitive capitalism, and the physical and psychological power men have in romantic and financial dealings offer Anna/Su Yi little hope under either system.

However, Singapore’s Anna hides a rebellious streak under this façade. Her unshaven, unkempt, long-haired boyfriend, Billy, sings in a rock band, wears jeans, jewelry, and t-shirts. Anna, stylish in business attire, struts through his concert venues perfectly at home in the chaos of blaring sounds, flashing lights, and ecstatic dancing. The band, Ronin, channeling the master-less samurai of feudal Japan, sings, in English, a song critical of capitalist greed that serves as Anna’s theme song:

Oh the devil may do what the devil may dare. But the devil don’t give a damn now. So you can take and you can break what your money can make….Mary wanna be rich now. Money gets in the sack…Show me the money. Money, Money, Money. Get a car, get a woman, get a credit card.

Just as Brecht punctuated his epic theatre with Kurt Weill’s songs, Anna & Anna inserts music into the narrative to disrupt and critique rather than intensify the melodrama on screen. The farfetched split that divides the character of Anna reinforces Brecht’s alienation effect and allows for a critical distance from the socio-political dynamics in operation in Singapore and mainland China. Lam shapes both versions of the Anna character in relation to money and the ambivalence surrounding dreams of material affluence and upward class mobility.

After arriving in Shanghai from Singapore, Anna goes to a photography exhibition entitled in English, “I am allergic to myself,” featuring doubled, black and white photographs that show different perspectives on a single female subject surrounded by men. (Figure 4) In the first, her face is obscured and men ignore her. In the second, her face is revealed and the man seated next to her looks in her direction. Anna buys a set. Later, she discovers that three photos rather than two have been sent to her and one is a photograph of her former lover Ou Yang. It soon becomes clear that her double Si Yu has purchased a candid shot of Ou Yang, which has been sent to the new arrival from Singapore by mistake. Thus, serendipity and the photographic medium bring the two versions of Anna together. They then decide to switch parts.

Figure 4
Figure 4

The photo exhibition, “I am allergic to myself,” speaks to the existential angst experienced by both versions of the eponymous Anna at the root of women’s alienation in a world defined by the male gaze. Frame grab.

Citation: Studies in World Cinema 1, 2 (2021) ; 10.1163/26659891-01020002

While many stories of “evil” twins offer their doubles as moral exemplars, writer-director Lam goes in a different direction with her flawed Anna. Indeed, each version of the character contains obvious flaws. Singapore Anna, for example, allows her professional standing, a combination of pride and greed, to overtake any ethical standards and moral qualms she may have. She confides in her double:

I have a client. I invested his money and lost it all. One day he committed suicide. Left behind a wife and three children. I knew the wife, but I never told her about the money. …Do you really want to be me?

In fact, Shanghai Anna does not hesitate and happily takes over her double’s life, flying to Singapore to sell her high-end flat, and, apparently, pocketing the money. No one seems to notice the difference except for boyfriend Billy, who feels that the other Anna never treated him as sweetly.

At a dinner with Ou Yang’s parents, Singapore Anna—after she has traded places with her Shanghai double—seems to remember why she decided on the fateful abortion that led to her breakup with Ou Yang. As his mother reminds her, Ou Yang’s father suffers from suicidal tendencies, and his mental illness appears to be congenital. While one version of Anna stayed after the abortion, the other determined that this decision created an irreparable rift between the two lovers. Thus, Lam’s film offers two versions of the story to fit the two manifestations of the eponymous character. Just as there are two embodiments of Anna, each has her own vision of Ou Yang—one violent, the other cruel, both emotionally damaged and clearly needy. Shanghai Anna kneels before her lover and marries him; her double moves to Singapore to escape him. In their final encounter, Anna and her double agree they cannot escape their respective fates and come to the conclusion that “nothing ever changes.” The trap of heterosexual romance dooms them both.

As Leta Hong Fincher points out in her 2014 book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China, the prc ratcheted up its propaganda campaign in 2007 (the year of Anna & Anna’s release) to shame single, educated, upwardly mobile women into marriage in order to offset the negative demographic shifts of the one-child policy. However, the demographic shift extends beyond mainland China. Singapore, for example, also desperate to maintain a stable population, has even financed speed dating and other matchmaking services for its citizens (Saywell, 2003). It is in the prc, though, that Anna feels the general social opprobrium against single, career women. Anna’s Shanghai colleagues seem subtly judgmental about her status as a mature, unmarried, professional woman. Her female supervisor comments that it is “a bit uncommon” that she is not married, and her male secretary Paul remarks, when she comes in looking disheveled in one scene, that she needs to be more careful about her looks “at her age.”

In order to highlight the contradictions at the heart of women’s alienated existence in China’s twenty-first century political economy, Aubrey Lam navigates between Brechtian distanciation and the hyperbolic clichés of the melodrama, and those moments that halt the plot provide avenues for the contemplation of the divided character as a symbol of a fractured society in which women pay the heaviest price for upward mobility and the maintenance of the patriarchal family. The most direct use of this occurs in Anna & Anna when the narrative pauses for Anna to look up definitions of the “doppelganger” on the Internet. The Singapore-based businesswoman opens up a Wikipedia page to find this information in English and Chinese:

In German, doppel means “double” Also known as “dual personality.” An evil self emerges. It is a paranormal phenomenon. It is a death omen. A person sees a second self. It is a sign of ill fortune.

A reverse close up shows Anna raising an eyebrow slightly; soft mood music plays. Backlit, she closes her laptop in silhouette, and her reflection in her hotel window multiplies her image to underline the point. (Figure 5) The doppelganger defines her, fragments her, and connects her to a global world of interchangeable women as a screen image. The composition of the shot underscores the violence of this image, while her double encounters the pressures of an increasingly globalized view of women in the Chinese-speaking world in a different way.8 A scene that halts the plot momentarily shows the Shanghai imposter out of her league at a fancy Western-style restaurant; however, her comic confrontation with the lobster on her plate speaks to feelings of alienation that transcend the moment. (Figure 6) The intersection of gender with class politics and the economic oppression of women underscores the nature of the “two systems” of socialism and capitalism as satire.

Figure 5
Figure 5

Anna fragmented and defined through global connection to the Internet. Frame grab.

Citation: Studies in World Cinema 1, 2 (2021) ; 10.1163/26659891-01020002

Figure 6
Figure 6

Anna/Su Yi confronts the lobster in an upscale restaurant. Frame grab.

Citation: Studies in World Cinema 1, 2 (2021) ; 10.1163/26659891-01020002

In an uncanny way, the women in Anna & Anna form their own version of a cross-border network that oddly facilitates their careers as well as romantic ambitions and misadventures. In her book, Patricia White (2015: 134) notes the importance of the circulation of “network narratives” involving complicated stories that model connections beyond the screen: “network narratives function as open structures in women’s film texts and these in turn link to the feminist and related cultural networks that sustain a growing number of women film practitioners.” With its temporally fractured plot, unlikely coincidences, fragmented characters, overlapping perspectives and ambivalent conclusion, Anna & Anna seems to fit this description with the added caveat of Hong Kong serving as a structuring absence that anchors the networked narrative in the conventions of world cinema.

As a co-production directed by a Hong Kong-based filmmaker, Anna & Anna brings together Singapore and Shanghai for comparison with Hong Kong as a present absence in the metropolitan triangulation of the economic powerhouses of the Chinese world. Moreover, Anna & Anna stars the cosmopolitan Karena Lam, born in Vancouver, Canada, based in Hong Kong, who works across Taiwan, the prc, and other locations in the Chinese-speaking world. In this transnational production, the double serves its purpose, opening up possibilities for a female director to consider the various versions of femininity available to women as China rises on the world stage. However, for Hong Kong women filmmakers, the double also functions as a means of navigating a split political identity in which divided women serve as tokens of a deep political crisis. Although dismissed by critics when it had its premiere in 2007, Anna & Anna continues to speak to fractured female identities across the Chinese-speaking world as Hong Kong navigates the demands of “one country” with “two systems.”

As Anna & Anna and other films from the first two decades of the twenty-first century show, transnational Chinese women filmmakers enter the world of cinema as active participants in global political affairs. As the noteworthy festival awards and critical successes of 2020 and 2021 indicate, Chinese women filmmakers have gained access to world screens previously closed to them. Taking up the camera, these women take on the world—transcending the borders of China and moving beyond Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and the overseas Chinese communities in the United States and elsewhere—changing the way we conceive of world cinema in the process.

Acknowledgements

Thanks so much to my research assistants Kasey Man Man Wong, Christine Vicera, and Georgina Challen for their help in preparing the manuscript. I am particularly grateful to Olivia Khoo for suggesting an essay on this topic and to Stephen Chu and Shih Shu-mei for encouraging an earlier version.

A portion of the research funding for this article comes from a General Research Fund award, “Hong Kong Women Filmmakers: Sex, Politics and Cinema Aesthetics, 1997–2010,” Research Grants Council, Hong Kong, 2011–15. (hku 750111H) and General Research Fund award, “Gendered Screens, Chinese Dreams: Women Filmmakers and the Rise of China in the Twenty-First Century,” Research Grants Council, Hong Kong, 2019–2021. (hku17612818)

For more information on Hong Kong women filmmakers, see Hong Kong Women Filmmakers: Sex, Politics and Cinema Aesthetics, 1997 to the Present, hosted by the Women’s Studies Research Centre and Department of Comparative Literature, University of Hong Kong, https://hkwomenfilmmakers.wordpress.com/.

Bibliography

  • Andrew, Dudley (2004). An Atlas of World Cinema. Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 45 (2), pp. 923.

  • Berry, Chris (1988). China’s New Women’s Cinema. Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies 6 (3), pp. 819.

  • Chan, Felicia (2016). First, Not Only: Writing Chinese Women’s Film Authorship. In: Felicia, Chan and Andy, Willis, eds., Chinese Cinemas: International Perspectives. New York: Routledge, pp. 109118.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chaudhuri, Shohini (2005). Contemporary World Cinema: Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and South Asia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cui, Shuqin (2003). Women Through the Lens. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

  • Dai, Jinhua (2002). Cinema and Desire: Feminist Marxism and Cultural Politics in the Work of Dai Jinhua. London: Verso.

  • Dennison, Stephanie, and Song Hwee, Lim (2006). Remapping World Cinema: Identity, Culture and Politics in Film. London: Wallflower Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ďurovičová, Nataša, and Kathleen, Newman (2010). World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives. New York: Routledge.

  • Ford, Stacilee (2008). Mabel Cheung Yuen Ting’s An Autumn’s Tale. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

  • France24 (2020). Taiwan’s president rejects ‘one country, two systems’ deal with China. France24, May 20. https://www.france24.com/en/20200520-taiwan-s-president-tsai-rejects-one-country-two-systems-deal-with-china.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grewal, Inderpal, and Caren, Kaplan (1994). Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hess, John, and Patricia, Zimmermann (1997). Transnational Documentaries: A Manifesto. Afterimage 24 (4), pp. 1014.

  • Hong Fincher, Leta (2014). Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China. London: Zed Books.

  • Johnson, Matthew D., Keith B., Wagner, Kiki Tianqi, Yu, Luke, Vulpiani (2014). China’s iGeneration: Cinema and Moving Image Culture for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Bloomsbury.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Khoo, Olivia (2007). The Chinese Exotic: Modern Diasporic Femininity. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press.

  • Leung, Helen Hok-Sze (2009). Undercurrents: Queer Culture and Postcolonial Hong Kong. Vancouver, British Columbia: UBC Press.

  • Lu, Sheldon Hsiao-peng (1997). Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

  • Ma, Jean Y. (2003). Doubled Lives, Dissimulated History: Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Good Men, Good Women. Post Script (22) 3, pp. 2133.

  • Marchetti, Gina (2016). Handover Women: Hong Kong Women Filmmakers and the Intergenerational Melodrama of Infidelity. Intergenerational Feminist Media Studies: Conflicts and Connectivities, special issue of Feminist Media Studies16 (4), pp. 590609.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marchetti, Gina (2017a). Hong Kong as Feminist Method: Gender, Sexuality, and Democracy in Two Documentaries by Tammy Cheung. In: Chu, Yiu-Wai, ed., Hong Kong Culture and Society in the New Millennium. Singapore: Springer, pp. 5976.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marchetti, Gina (2017b). The Feminine Touch: Chinese Soft Power Politics and Hong Kong Women Filmmakers. In: Paola, Voci and Luo, Hui, eds., Screening China’s Soft Power. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 229251.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marchetti, Gina (2019). First Person, Second Language: Autobiographical Documentaries by Women in the Chinese Diaspora. Asia Dialogue, May 24. https://theasiadialogue.com/2019/05/24/first-person-second-language-autobiographical-documentaries-by-women-in-the-chinese-diaspora/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marchetti, Gina (2020a). Feminist activism in the first person: an analysis of Nanfu Wang’s Hooligan Sparrow (2016). Studies in Documentary Film 14 (1), pp 3049. https://doi.org/10.1080/17503280.2020.1720090.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marchetti, Gina (2020b). Women Filmmakers: Ann Hui. In: Karen, Ross, Ingrid, Bachmann, Valentina, Cardo, Sujata, Moorti and Cosimo Marco, Scarcelli, eds., The International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marchetti, Gina (2021). Chloé Zhao and China: The Nomadland Moment. Film Quarterly (Quorum), April 28. https://filmquarterly.org/2021/04/28/chloe-zhao-and-china-the-nomadland-moment/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martin, Fran (2010). Backward Glances. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Martin, Sylvia J. (2021). Anthropology’s Prophecy for #MeToo: From Hollywood to Hong Kong. Visual Anthropology Review 37 (1), pp. 120141.

  • Marx, Karl, and Frederick, Engels (2000). Manifesto of the Communist Party. Marxists Internet Archive. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/index.htm.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Naficy, Hamid (2001). An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  • Ong, Aihwa (1999). Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Overholt, William (1993). The Rise of China: How Economic Reform Is Creating a New Superpower. New York: W.W. Norton.

  • Pollock, Sheldon, Homi K., Bhabha, Carol A., Breckenridge, and Dipesh, Chakrabarty (2000). Cosmopolitanisms. Public Culture 12 (3), pp. 577589.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rofel, Lisa (2007). Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Saywell, Trish (2003). Singapore Plays Matchmaker, Hoping to Boost Its Birth Rate. The Wall Street Journal, January 30. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1043880611701053064

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shih, Shu-mei (2007). Visuality and Identity. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

  • Shohat, Ella, and Robert, Stam (1994). Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. London: Routledge.

  • Wang, Jisi, and Ryosei, Kokubun (2004). The Rise of China and a Changing East Asian Order. Tokyo: Japan Center for International Exchange.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wang, Lingzhen (2011). Chinese Women’s Cinema: Transnational Contexts. New York: Columbia University Press.

  • Wang, Lingzhen (2020). Revisiting Women’s Cinema: Feminism, Socialism, and Mainstream Culture in Modern China. Durham: Duke University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wei, S. Louisa (2009). Women’s Cinema: Dialogues with Chinese and Japanese Female Directors. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • White, Patricia (2015). Women’s Cinema, World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Yau, Ching (2004). Filming Margins: Tang Shu Shuen, a Forgotten Hong Kong Woman Director. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

  • Yue, Audrey (2010). Ann Hui’s Song of the Exile. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

  • Zhen, Zhang. Entry in the Tisch Directory. Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. https://tisch.nyu.edu/about/directory/cinema-studies/3753418.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
1

For more on Ann Hui’s career, see Marchetti, 2020b.

2

For an analysis of this film, see Marchetti, 2020a.

3

Zhang Zhen is currently working on a book on Chinese women directors. See her entry in the New York University Tisch Directory. https://tisch.nyu.edu/about/directory/cinema-studies/3753418.

4

For more on the “rise of China,” see Overholt, 1993, and Wang, J. and Kokubun, 2004.

5

See Wang, L., 2020.

7

Originally an outpouring of opposition to proposed legislation putatively to ease the bureaucracy surrounding the transfer of criminal cases across international borders but that would, in fact, allow the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China, the 2019 protests continued after the withdrawal of the bill. Grievances included police brutality (including sexual harassment), judicial overreach, and failure to enact meaningful electoral reforms. As a response to these protests, the Central Government in Beijing imposed the National Security Law (nsl) on the territory in 2020. This law includes and expands exponentially on the proposed 2019 bill as well as earlier withdrawn legislation on national security from 2003.

8

For more on Chinese women, diaspora, and global culture, see Khoo, 2007.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 1650 927 99
PDF Views & Downloads 2066 1157 109