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Film finds ups and downs in 'golden era'

By Liu Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2014-04-18 07:23

Film finds ups and downs in 'golden era'

Tang Wei (C) takes the role of Xiao Hong in Ann Hui's upcoming film Goldern Era. Provided to China Daily

Film finds ups and downs in 'golden era'
Ann Hui has mixed feelings about 'Golden Era'
Film finds ups and downs in 'golden era'
 Tang Wei portrays female writer Xiao Hong
Hong Kong director Ann Hui's new film The Golden Era, featuring a stellar-studded cast spearheaded by Tang Wei, will premiere on Oct 1.

Capturing the life of female writer Xiao Hong and her fellow intellectuals in the chaotic 1930s, the film has been one of the most anticipated domestic releases this year. Some people even call it an art-house version of The Avengers, referring to its shining cast, including more than 10 veteran actors like Wang Zhiwen, Hao Lei and Yuan Quan.

They play the most influential literary figures in the 1930s, who, despite the hazardous social upheavals, were dedicated to their faith in literature and a better future. At the center of the ensemble roles is Xiao Hong, whose personal life was no less dramatic than her novels. Around her are her lovers Xiao Jun and Duanmu Hongliang, also famous writers, and her mentor Lu Xun, the celebrated writer and thinker of the 1930s.

Hui, a reader of Xiao's novels since she was a teenager, has dreamed of bringing the writer's life onto the big screen for four decades. The 67-year-old director has been known for her effortless but deeply-touching portrayal of women, such as Ah Tao in the emotional drama A Simple Life. But even for her, to depict Xiao Hong is a big challenge.

Xiao, born in 1911, rose to fame with her novels about her hometown in northeastern China and her depiction of the life and struggle of the most ordinary peasants there. In the 1930s she moved to Shanghai and befriended the best writers in her time, such as Lu Xun, Hu Feng and Mei Zhi. Yet her love life was a tragedy, in which she was left in sickness and poverty by her two lovers. Suffering diseases and the pain of losing two children, she died at 31.

"Although she died very young, I admire her life," says Hui. "She led a life so rich with experiences which many people never had chance to touch."

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