One Tree Three Lives
Evening film screening and panel discussion with Angie Chen (Film Director), Professor Leo Ou-fan Lee (Cultural Critic), Dr. Koo Siu-sun (Honorary Lecturer, University of Hong Kong), Poon Yiu-ming (Ming Pao Monthly), Bede Cheng, Programme Manager, Hong Kong International Film Festival (Moderator)
Drinks Reception: 6.30 pm
Screening: 7:00 pm
Discussion: 8:35 pm*
Close: 9:15 pm
One Tree Three Lives
2012, Hong Kong, Dir. Angie Chen, 95 min., in English and Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
An intimate documentary on the novelist Hualing Nieh Engle, who has been a major influence on generations of writers in the Chinese diaspora, and beyond. At times sad, at times funny, the film interviews 26 writers, revealing a woman of unusual charisma, integrity and determination, and a person in continual exile. Hualing Nieh Engle calls herself a tree, with roots in China, the trunk in Taiwan, and the many leaves in Iowa, USA. Born and raised in wartime China, she left Wuhan in 1949 for peace in Taipei, and then left for love in 1964 to the U.S. She is the author of 24 books of fiction and non-fiction, which have been translated into various languages. In 1967, she founded the prestigious International Writing Program (IWP) with her late husband, the American poet Paul Engle, in Iowa. Nine years later, they were nominated by more than 300 writers for the Nobel Peace Prize. IWP has nurtured over 1,400 writers from over 140 countries, including Nobel Literature Prize winners Orhan Pamuk (My Name is Red, Snow), and Mo Yan (Red Sorghum), and other noted writers including Yu Hua (To Live, Brothers), and Lin Hwa-min (author, and artistic director, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre).
Originally, the film was to feature both Hualing and Paul, but Paul passed away before filming began, on his way to Poland to receive a cultural award. His epitaph reads, "I cannot move mountains, but I can make light." The film, which will be released in Hong Kong in 2013, celebrates the light that the Engles have made together, and the roles that Hualing, now 87, continues to perform — a novelist, mentor, a woman, mother, grandmother and wife; a mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, an American; as well as a pacifist who loves to laugh.
Angie Chen has been making films since 1979. She was born in Shanghai, brought up in Hong Kong and Taiwan, received her MFA from UCLA, and lived in America for over a decade. She now resides in Hong Kong, working in the industry as director/producer, and teaches part-time in the Film Academy's MFA Program at Baptist University. Her first short film as writer/director, Der Besuch (The Visit, 1980), has been critically acclaimed and honored internationally. It was a film about her dying father in Germany, with whom she had been separated for 17 years. She made three feature films in the '80s, one of which, My Name Ain't Suzie, was nominated and garnered best supporting actress awards. She entered the commercial film business in the '90s, recently she has made a comeback to feature filmmaking and directed two feature-length documentaries, This Darling Life (2008) and One Tree Three Lives (2012).
Professor Leo Ou-fan Lee is a bilingual cultural critic in Hong Kong and currently teaching at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as the Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture.
Dr. Koo Siu-sun (IWP 1970 resident) received his doctorate of philosophy from the University of Hong Kong in 2002. He was previously Chief Editor for Taiwanese magazine Echo, and Ming Pao Monthly. Dr. Koo is currently Honorary Lecturer at the School of Chinese, University of Hong Kong, and his recent focus is on the research and promotion of Kunqi opera.
Poon Yiu-ming (IWP 1983 resident) is Chief Editor and General Manager of Ming Pao Monthly, he is also Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Writers.
Bede Cheng, Programme Manager, Hong Kong International Film Festival (Moderator)
*Discussion conducted in Mandarin with simultaneous interpretation in English
Video: Watch a trailer for One Tree Three Lives (2 min., 51 sec.):