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A star shines her light on Chinese film

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-13 08:12
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In the documentary, actress Lisa Lu travels from Los Angeles, to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and then Guangdong province, to reminisce about the early development of Chinese film.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The evolution of Chinese film is the subject of an enticing documentary that premiered on Friday.

Featuring dramatic reconstructions of historical moments and the stories of trailblazers, In Pursuit of Light follows Chinese-born American actress Lisa Lu, 95, from Los Angeles, to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangdong province, as she reminisces about, and sheds light on, influential works that helped define the early development of Chinese film.

Lu is a legendary actress of Chinese ancestry who forged a pioneering path to Hollywood and has been active in the film industry for more than six decades and counting. She has received several influential awards and has featured in movies with such illustrious names as Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda and James Stewart.

The documentary reproduces fascinating stories from her early life.

Lu started to imitate theater performers at a very young age, which is perhaps unsurprising given that her mother was a Peking Opera star and her godfather was Mei Lanfang, an icon of the Chinese performing arts.

In 1947, her family moved to the United States and she enrolled in the University of Hawaii where she studied financial management.

They then moved to Los Angeles in 1956 and Lu joined the Pasadena Playhouse. The venue was both an incubator of talent and a place where invaluable contacts could be made. Soon a slew of small roles beckoned from neighboring Hollywood.

Her Chinese-style elegance and capability to speak both Chinese and English won her many career opportunities.

She was widely known as "one take Lisa" for her ability to accurately deliver her lines, in time and without fuss.

The only time the nonagenarian tears up in the documentary is when she recalls Mei's family seeing her off at Wusongkou port in Shanghai in 1947 as she and her mother boarded their ship bound for the US.

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