Directors of Chinese film ‘Her Story’ talk about power of life
A new angle
Published: Sep 07, 2022 10:20 PM
Promotional material for <em>Her Story</em> Photos: Courtesy of Maoyan

Promotional material for Her Story Photo: Courtesy of Maoyan

Promotional material for <em>Her Story</em> Photos: Courtesy of Maoyan

Promotional material for Her Story Photo: Courtesy of Maoyan

The new film Her Story, set to hit theaters around China on Friday, is the first work in the Chinese film industry to be collectively created by women filmmakers. In a recent interview with the Global Times, the directors of the film shared their thoughts on the topic of the unique perspective of women in filmmaking.

The film tells the story of ordinary people looking for love and hope in difficult situations and reflects their extraordinary persistence and dedication - When sudden changes lie ahead, such as when the relationships between lovers, husband and wife, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law begin to crack, every choice and action reflect the temperament in human nature and the strength of people's hearts.

The film was co-directed by three notable names among Chinese filmmakers: Li Shaohong, Joan Chen and Sylvia Chang and stars some of the top names in the industry, including Zhou Xun, Jackson Yee, Sammi Cheng and Stephen Fung. 

Embracing and loving life

"Her Story is a hymn to my life. I hope everyone who has watched this film can see my reflections and feel my passion for life as a female film worker," Chen, one of the earliest acclaimed Chinese stars in Hollywood, wrote on her social media account.

"The advantage of female filmmakers is that they can pay more attention to female characters. And they can see the emotions, impulses, wishes and desires hidden under the surface," she told the Global Times in a recent interview. 

"Female directors also take different angles. For example, when US female director Kathryn Bigelow directed Zero Dark Thirty, the female characters she created were not spoiled sweethearts, but characters with tenacity and perseverance, which is women's unique attraction. I think female filmmakers should have the courage to break the fixed frame and explore their own infinite possibilities," she told the Global Times.

The part Chen directed in Her Story is, simply speaking, a love story. She said the reason why she chose "love and loss" as the theme, which has been expressed for thousands of years, is that she believes it is an eternal topic and that she wanted to use a "fashionable and romantic" visual language to interpret it.

"Some movies are like novels, others short novels, but the short films I have directed are like prose poems. I chose to use poetic film language to tell this story," she concluded.

The camera started to roll in the fall of 2020. Though she encountered some setbacks during the preparation phase, Chen noted that the sincere performances presented by the actors still move her till now.

She was also impressed by the film crew's hard work. Everyone would gather in front of the monitor, which made Chen feel "the vitality and appeal of the work."

When asked what message she wanted to convey to the audience through the film, Chen said without hesitation that it is "to love and embrace life!"

"This movie is hymn to life. Life is full of accidents and sometimes suddenly becomes so fragile," she said. 

"Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, we could feel the value of life much more and understand we should embrace our lives."

"I hope that after the audience watches this movie, they can firmly hold on to the people who go to the cinema with them. Cherish this precious gift from God, love life and enjoy life!" she said. 

Finding beauty in adversity

"Women worked particularly hard during the pandemic, because suddenly all the family members returned home, and women had to take care of the whole family from morning till night. And some women still have to go to work outside," Chang, a famous actress and director from the island of Taiwan, said.

"Women suddenly reverted to traditional women during the pandemic, and they may feel wronged and have many feelings. I hope to explore different things such as how a plight like the pandemic can impact women," Chang told the Global Times.

Chang said that before writing the story, she found some photos in newspapers from the pandemic that were really touching. Therefore, she wanted to develop a story about a female photographer.

"From her profession and through her eyes, what impact will the pandemic have on her? Maybe before, she just went to work, took some photos and published them, but in this special period, every photo is suddenly a reminder to her and many things that were ignored before suddenly are connected to her," Chang said.

"I gave up the more extreme and conflicting stories, and wanted to depict a story that is closer to the truth by looking at life from a different angle: In a difficult situation, can we find the beauty that life brings by changing our mindset?" she said.