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Maternal ties: unbreakable love and pains

The crucial stage of gaining gendered consciousness and self-discovery through maternal ties has stimulated the proliferation of recently women’s cinema that is also often through directors’ self performance.

Stonewalling 石门 (Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka, 148 min,  2022) 
1:30pm, 10 March 2024 with Q&A @ the Garden Cinema

Twenty-year-old Lynn is told she needs English classes for a flight attendant school. She perseveres along this path of upward mobility until she finds out she’s pregnant. Undecided and running out of time, she tells her boyfriend she’s had an abortion and instead returns to her feuding parents and their failing clinic to try and figure out (if she can) what’s next.


Huang Ji & Ryuji Otsuka 

Huang Ji (Hunan, 1984) studied screenwriting at the Beijing Film Academy. Her feature directorial debut Egg and Stone (2012) won the Tiger Award at Rotterdam and the Andrei Tarkovsky IFF Grand Prix in 2013. Her second feature film The Foolish Bird (2007), co-directed with Ryuji Otsuka, earned a Special Mention from the Generation 14+ International Jury at the 2017 Berlinale.

Ryuji Otsuka (Tokyo, 1972) worked as a DOP on films including Ji’s films, Judge by Jie Liu, and A Family Tour by Liang Ying. He directed Beijing Ants (2013), and co-directed Trace (2013) and The Foolish Bird (2017). 

Huang Ji

Mama (Li Dongmei, 134 min, 2020)
3:30pm, 24 March 2024 @ BLOC, QMUL

"MAMA" tells what happens over seven days in a village in rural China during the 1990's. It depicts the memory of 12-year-old girl Xiaoxian about her family and her village. In seven days, she witnesses three deaths and two births, including the death of her own mother who dies giving birth to her fourth sister.


Li Dongmei

LI Dongmei was born in a rural village in Chongqing Province, China. She was the first student in her village to enter university where she studied English and American literature. Her family had no TV but her grandfather was good at telling stories that were vivid and alive. Her sisters and her were fascinated by all the characters and images in the stories he told, and it was these stories that motivated her to study literature. She became an English teacher in Futian middle school. One day, she walked into an empty cinema that was showing a film about an Iranian girl’s everyday life. It was a very simply story, but it was reflecting her own life. Indeed, the film was about the father of this Iranian girl who always wanted a son and about how she was always fighting him over this. It had such an impact on her that she decided to study filmmaking. In 2013, at the age of 31, she was accepted into the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne University. She returned to China and, after doing some film jobs for Chinese companies, she started her first feature film.

Li Dongmei

Bad Women of China (He Xiaopei, 82 min, 2021) – documentary
 1:30 PM 17 February @ Museum of Home (In collaboration with Queer East Festival)

In an attempt to reconcile with her estranged mother through her daughter’s interview, He Xiapei brings them under her camera, and comes to understand her life, desire and willpower, while reflecting on her own path and relationship with her daughter. Experiencing political and social revolution from the 1920s to the 2020s under a different sky, the three generations of women strive for a life of their own, each passing to the next the most tender love and unintentional trauma, and rediscovering their indelible bonds.

Bad women of China

He Xiaopei

He Xiaopei is a film director and activist whose films explore invisible desires and lives. Since the 1990s, she has devoted herself to feminist and lesbian movements in China. She completed a PhD in sexuality and cultural studies in the UK, and set up the NGO Pink Space in China.

He Xiaopei
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