This piece reflects on the process of researching and producing S. Louisa Wei's documentary Golden Gate Girls (2014) and the significance of Esther Eng in contemporary feminist conceptualizations of women's filmmaking in the 1930s and 1940s. The goal of the documentary and the research is to place Eng back into Chinese and U.S. film histories, from which she has effectively been forgotten. The photo essay uses text and images to describe and reflect on that process, on the challenge of researching Eng through the images that remain, and on the ways in which feminist film history might take account of her.
Finding Voices Through Her Images: Golden Gate Girls as an Attempt in Writing Women Filmmakers' History
Dr. S. Louisa Wei is a Chinese filmmaker, film producer, and Associate Professor of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong. In February 2006 she made her first music documentary, Cui Jian: Rocking China, a thirty-five-minute video retrospective of performances from 1986 to 2005 by China's “father of rock 'n' roll.” In July 2006 she made her first feature documentary, A Piece of Heaven: Primary Documents, a personal story of her early documentary experience with Professor Situ Zhaodun of Beijing Film Academy, who had learned his lessons from Joris Ivens. Between 2006 and 2009 Wei codirected a documentary with Xiaolian Peng—a 139-minute film about the 1955 national campaign initiated by Chairman Mao Zedong against Hu Feng, a leading literary critic at the time. Titled Storm Under the Sun, this was the first filmic representation of the CCP's first large-scale literary persecution. She has also translated many feature film scripts. Her award-winning feature documentary Golden Gate Girls (2014) explores the Chinese American filmmaker Esther Eng.
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S. Louisa Wei; Finding Voices Through Her Images: Golden Gate Girls as an Attempt in Writing Women Filmmakers' History. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2016; 2 (2): 32–46. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2016.2.2.32
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