One Tree Three Lives - Film Screening


One Tree Three Lives

Dir. Angie Chen. 2012. Hong Kong. 90 min. HDCAM.
In English and Mandarin with English subtitles.

Co-presented with International Writing Program.

Hualing Nieh, acclaimed Chinese novelist and essayist, founded the prestigious International Writing Program (IWP) with her late husband Paul Engle. Since 1967, over 1400 writers from more than 140 countries have taken part in its residency program at the University of Iowa. The program has nurtured generations of international writers. Past participants include Nobel Literature Prize winners Orhan Pamuk (My Name is Red, Snow) and Mo Yan (Red Sorghum), Yu Hua (To Live, Brothers), and Lin Hwai-min (author and artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre). This documentary follows Nieh's remarkable life traversing cultures, languages, and continents as a perpetual "outsider." Born in Wuhan, China, Nieh moved to Taiwan in 1949 as the Communists won the civil war. But in Taiwan, she was persecuted for her liberal thoughts. Eventually settled in Iowa, Nieh created a vibrant world surrounded by international writers.

Q&A with Hualing Nieh (via Skype), film director Angie Chen and IWP Director Christopher Merrill (in-person). Followed by reception.

Watch a trailer (2 min., 51 sec.):

Additional background information:

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 the United States in 1964, for love. Now 86 years old, Nieh has authored 24 books. Her memoir The Images of Three Lives and her novels The Lost Golden Cicada (1960) and Mulberry Green and Peach Pink (1976) have been particularly influential.

In 1967, Nieh founded the prestigious International Writing Program (IWP) in Iowa with her husband the poet Paul Engle (1908-91), who was the director of the renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop from 1941 to 1965. IWP is a unique conduit for the world's literatures, connecting well-established writers from around the globe.

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 more than a decade. She now resides in Hong Kong, working in the industry as director/producer, and teaching part-time in the Film Academy's MFA Program at Baptist University. Her first short Der Besuch (The Visit, 1980), about her dying father, has been critically acclaimed and honored internationally in Los Angeles, Toronto, Caracas, Quebec, Seattle, New York and Hong Kong. She made three feature films in the '80s, including My Name Ain't Suzie, an award-winning Shaw Brothers picture about the quintessential bar girls in Hong Kong servicing U.S. sailors since the '60s. 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), nominated for Best Documentary in the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards; and One Tree Three Lives (2012) world premiered in the 2012 Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Christopher Merrill’s books include four collections of poetry, Brilliant Water, Workbook, Fevers & Tides, and Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Ales Debeljak’s Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; several edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon; and five books of nonfiction, The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee, and Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and now directs the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa.


This program is supported by Moonchu Foundation and Taipei Cultural Center. Special thanks to Edith Cheung, Nataša Ďurovičová, Pam Lay, Mui Binghow, Lan-Lan Wang, Amber Wu, Susan Yu.

International Writing ProgramMoonchu FoundationTaipei Cultural Center

Event Details

Sat 10 Nov 2012
6 - 8 p.m.
725 Park Avenue (at East 70 Street), New York, NY
$7 members; $9 students/seniors; $11 nonmembers. Online ticketing is closed. Tickets can be purchased in person.
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