Available between April 20 - May 23.
Part of a curated section, “Hong Kong, Reimagined”.
This documentary focuses on the life and works of Esther Eng (1914-1970), the first woman to direct Chinese-language film in the US, and the most prominent woman director in Hong Kong in the 1930’s. A San Francisco native and open lesbian, her contribution to film history is sadly overlooked – her 11 feature films mostly lost. After the retirement of director Dorothy Arzner in 1943 and before Ida Lupino began directing in 1949, Eng was the only woman directing feature length films in the US.
Wei’s documentary paints a fascinating picture of how Eng’s career in filmmaking broke through gender and racial boundaries in Hollywood and Hong Kong, at a time when opportunities for Chinese women in the industry were few and far between. With a captivating archive of newly discovered images and interviews with those who knew her, Wei uncovers a rich chapter of film history that challenges both gender hierarchies and national narratives. To pay tribute to Esther Eng, this documentary borrows the title of Eng’s 1941 picture Golden Gate Girl and the making of the film was also included in the documentary.
Festivals & Awards
“Hong Kong cinema is not always about Hong Kong, as seen in this film. Hong Kong has been a vibrant hub to facilitate cultural exchange between the East and the West. It remains an important space to connect culture with the world. A similar debate is also portrayed in The HongKongers.”
Dr. S. Louisa Wei is an Associate Professor at the City University of Hong Kong, a documentary filmmaker, and a member of the Hong Kong Director’s Guild. She writes extensively on Chinese female directors and women’s cinema, having published many articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and two books on the topic. Her two feature documentaries, Golden Gate Girls (2014) and Havana Divas (2018), respectively focusing on how Chinese language films and Cantonese operas traveled in North and Latin America from the 1920s to the 1960s. Both films have received positive reviews and reportage from major media like The Hollywood Reporter and BBC. In writing China’s intellectual history, Wei has also published two books and made one feature (Storm under the Sun, 2009, co-director Xiaolian Peng) and two TV documentaries for Radio Television Hong Kong.
Screening Promotion Partner:
UKCWC (UK Chinese Women Connect Association) is a charity based in the UK (registration number: 1193654). We aim to bring women in the Chinese community together to reduce the sense of isolation and loneliness, as well as to achieve racial harmony. As female immigrants, many struggles to fit into the British society and ends up being siloed. Some even experienced hate crime and discrimination.
Screening Promotion Partner:
Mulan Foundation Network aims to recognise and honour the achievements of Chinese women in the UK and elsewhere through Annual Awards and in the process build up a global network of top and successful Chinese women and young Chinese women on the way up, for networking, mentoring and to support and help each other as well as contribute to the wider community.
Mulan Foundation Network was formally launched as a Charity at the House of Lords on 31 October 2013.
Cantonese, English, English Subtitles
Hong Kong SAR, China
Blue Queen Cultural Communication Ltd., Women Make Movies