Movie Review: Snow Flower And The Secret Fan (China, 2011)

A Story Of Sisters, Presented By Facing History And Ourselves & The China Institute

Snow flower and the secret fan

Film promotional poster

Co-sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves, an organization focusing on international education and professional development, and the China Institute, this week a special screening of the new film Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was presented at New York’s Dolby 88 Theater. Members of the Jing Daily team, along with China Institute members and other special guests, were invited to take part in the screening, its first in the United States.

Based on the 2005 novel by Lisa See and directed by the Hong Kong-born American filmmaker Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club), Snow Flower and the Secret Fan boasts a strong ensemble cast, including the Chinese actress Li Bingbing, South Korea’s Jeon Ji-Hyun, and Hugh Jackman. The film was jointly produced by Wendi Murdoch, wife of Rupert Murdoch, and Florence Low Sloan.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan traces stories of female friendship through the ages, beginning in 19th century China, where seven-year-old girls Snow Flower and Lily bind themselves together for eternity as laotong, or “old sames”. Isolated by their families, the girls communicate by taking turns writing in a secret language, Nü Shu, between the folds of a white silk fan. In a parallel story set in present-day Shanghai, Snow Flower and Lili’s descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain their close lifelong friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated relationships, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai.

Snow flower and the secret fan

A scene from Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

In addition to the stories of friendship depicted in the film, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan delves into some of the nearly forgotten codes of conduct imposed upon women in imperial China, as well as abandoned traditions such as foot binding. Juxtaposing the contrasting pressures of life for women in ancient and modern China, as well as their commonalities, the film shows that while times are always changing, the importance of friendship is a historical constant.

Currently screening in China, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan will have its official North American premiere in Los Angeles on July 15.

 

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