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Genders and sexualities: Fluidity and resilience

Diving deep into women’s psyche on how they negotiate with gendered limitations and sextual desires, films in this session do not shy away from presenting women’s fear and vulnerabilities, and their quiet resistance to societal and patriarchal expectations.

This Woman (Alan Zhang, 90 min, 2023) – docufiction – OPENING FILM
1:30pm, 11 February 2024 @ BLOC, QMUL
1:30pm, 2 March, 2024 @ Bertha Dochouse

In this impressive and courageous debut docufiction, Alan Zhang follows the journey of a young woman in order to profoundly question the role of women in contemporary Chinese society. To what obligations and expectations are they subjected, and how can they free themselves from these constraints? A political and timely film, with a wonderful protagonist and a playful tone.

This woman poster

Ah Lan

Ah Lan is a director, artist and feminist activist. Her moving image works include I come to Abandon, Sperm Seeker Ah Lan. This woman premiered at Vision du Reel 2023, won Special Jury Award offered by la Société des Hôteliers de la Côte.

Alan Zhang

Green Night (Han Shuai, 92 min 2023) 
1:30pm 26 April @ The Garden Cinema

In an effort to escape her troubled past, Jin Xia, a Chinese woman, marries a Korean man named Lee Seung-hun in exchange for legal status in South Korea. One night, Xia encounters a green-haired girl enveloped in an enigmatic aura and becomes involved in the dangerous world of drug dealing.
Attracted to the girl for some inexplicable reason, Xia takes her home and the two end up killing 
Seung-hun in a not-so-accidental accident. The pair go on the run, but Xia returns to the crime scene to retrieve the drugs the green-haired girl left behind..

Green Night poster

Han Shuai

HAN Shuai is a Chinese film director and screenwriter. Her debut feature SUMMER BLUR won the Grand Prix in the Generation Kplus competition section at the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival, the FIPRESCI Award in the New Currents section at the 2020 Busan International Film Festival, Jury Award at the 2020 Pingyao International Film Festival's Feimu Awards section, Best Director and Best Actress for newcomer HUANG Tian in the Firebird Young Cinema competition at the 2021 Hong Kong International Film Festival. HAN Shuai is also the author of New Impressions Cinema: The Aesthetics of Lou Ye's Films, published by the Phoenix Education Publishing, Ltd. She holds a Ph.D. in Theater and Cinema Studies from the Central Academy of Drama, China

HAN Shuai

Jet Lag (Zheng Lu Xinyuan, 111 min, 2022) - experimental, essay film
3pm, 31 March 2024@ The Garden Cinema

Early 2020, the sudden covid-19 outbreak stranded me and my girlfriend Zoe in Austria. Enduring the lock-down, we dug into the family mystery of my Great Grandpa through a VHS tape and footage that I shot 2 years back in Myanmar.

Spring 2018, Grandma and our family were invited to Mandalay to attend a distant relative’s wedding. In between attending the banquets and sightseeing, Grandma was eager to find out more about her missing father, who left China when she was five and became a Monk later in his life. After multiple flight cancellations, my girlfriend Zoe and I made our way back home. We visited Grandma together. I came to realize that Grandma, Zoe and I were all experiencing the absence of fatherhood for different reasons.
In February 2021, a military coup took place in Myanmar. All of a sudden, Myanmar again became a place that is so close and far away at the same time.

Jet Lag_Still_1.jpg

Zheng Lu Xinyuan

Zheng Lu Xinyuan is a filmmaker based in Hangzhou, China. She graduated from School of Cinematic Arts, USC with a Film Production MFA in 2017. Her first feature The Cloud in Her Room won the Tiger Award at Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2020. Her short films were selected to screen at festivals such as Tribeca Film Festival, FIRST International Film Festival, Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture and China Independent Film Festival. Xinyuan cultivates a personal visual practice that explores the boundaries of various media as well as of articulation itself.

Zheng Lu Xinyuan

Hidden Letters (Violet Du Feng and Qing Zhao, 86 min, 2022) – documentary
6pm, 17 February 2024 @ Bertha DocHouse

Women in China were historically forced into oppressive marriages and forbidden to read or write by their households for thousands of years. To cope, they developed and shared a secret language among themselves called Nushu. Written in poems or songs with bamboo pens on paper-folded fans and handkerchiefs, these hidden letters bonded generations of Chinese women in a clandestine support system of sisterhood, hope and survival. 

Spanning between past and present, from sunken rice fields and rural villages to bustling metropolitan cities, Hidden Letters follows two millennial Chinese women who are connected by their fascination with Nushu and their desire to protect its legacy. In Jiangyong, Hu Xin works as a Nushu museum guide and aspires to master the ancient script following the breakup of her marriage. In Shanghai, Simu is passionate about music and Nushu, but marital expectations threaten to end her pursuit of both. Influenced by Nushu’s legacy of female solidarity, the two women struggle to find balance as they forge their own paths in a patriarchal culture steeped in female subservience to men. 

Hidden Letters

Violet Du Feng

Violet is an Emmy winning independent documentarian and a 2018 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow. Her producing credits include Singing in the Wilderness, Confucian Dream, Maineland, and Please Remember Me. She directed the most recent PBS/CPB special program Harbor from the Holocaust, which had a national premiere in September 2020 with music performed by Yo-Yo Ma. She started her career as a co-producer on the critically acclaimed 2007 Sundance Special Jury winner, Peabody and Emmy winner Nanking, which was distributed theatrically around 30 countries throughout the world, and was the highest grossing documentary in China. Violet is the producer of the forthcoming films People’s Hospital, Dark Is Not Black and Running with the Prime Minister. Violet is a consulting programmer for Shanghai International Film Festival. Born in Shanghai, and based in New York, Violet holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and received her MFA in journalism from University of California at Berkeley. 


Zhao Qing

Zhao Qing is the director of the award winning Please Remember Me, which is supported by Sundance Documentary Fund, IDFA Bertha Fund and the Britdoc Connect Fund. She started her career at Shanghai Media Group in 1991, where she directed and produced many television documentaries affiliated to the Overseas Programming Center, now known as the Documentary Channel of SMG. She directed and hosted several popular TV documentary programs such as “The Bund” and “Documentary Editing Room.”  

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