by Robert Hamilton
Angie Chen’s This Darling Life (2008) opened Visible Secrets, the festival of Hong Kong’s Women Filmmakers held at Cornerhouse in 2009. It was a film which marked Angie’s return to feature filmmaking after an absence of 20 years, and is a playful and poignant meditation on the companionship between dogs and their owners from the homeless inhabitant beneath a Hong Kong underpass to the residents of the Peak. It starred her own pets and featured a dialogue with her brother on their family history. The film had the feel of the director taking stock of life and, as she said at the time, was ‘a quirky kind of film and a very personal one too’.
Up to that point Angie’s career had included acting, directing, working with Jackie Chan and for the Shaw Brothers as well as a lengthy time directing commercials. Since graduating from the film school at UCLA, she has worked in the media industries for over 30 years. In America, Angie was working on Liu Jia-Chang’s first English project when Jackie Chan asked her to return to Hong Kong to work on Dragon Lord (1982). She finished the film as Chan’s assistant director. She went on to make three features for the Shaw Brothers, Maybe It’s Love (1985), My Name Ain’t Suzie (1985) and Chaos by Design (1988). She then moved into directing TV commercials and teaching film production at the Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts.
Two decades later, Angie and her producer, Pamela Ley, brought This Darling Life to Manchester. To those of us who met her then, she also brought an infectious enthusiasm and an engaging energy for film as well as a knowledge of the Hong Kong movie industry that only a respected insider could have gained and an entertaining stream of anecdotes to go with it. Since then Cornerhouse and the Chinese Film Forum has stayed in contact with Angie and Pamela through visits to the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the same festival at which Angie’s new film One Tree, Three Lives (2012) premiered earlier this year.
It is therefore with the greatest of pleasure that we welcome Angie and Pamela back to Manchester with One Tree, Three Lives for its UK premiere at Cornerhouse on Monday, 22nd October, at 6:15pm. Some three years in the making, the film focuses on the life and career of Chinese American novelist, Nieh Hualing, who with her husband, the poet Paul Engle, set up the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. The IWP was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 and coincidentally attended by Mo Yan, this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is an intimate and personal portrait of Nieh Hualing’s commitment to writing and politics as well as a life lived in exile. The screening will be followed by a Q and A with Angie Chen and we look forward to a lively discussion.
Bookings for the film may be made via the Cornerhouse box office.
*FREE STUDENT TICKETS available* Just bring your student ID to the Cornerhouse box office, first come, first served on Monday. Note that event starts on time!