Life Show

Director: Huo Jianqi
Screenwriters: Si Wu

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


So often in Asian cinema, stories about women become vehicles to examine the society in which they live, and so it is with this straightforward but entrancing tale of a woman feeling the impact of a China in transition. Directed by Huo Jianqi, Life Show, winner of the Grand Prize at this year's Shanghai Film Festival, is an adaptation of a famous Chinese novel about a somewhat-tough, 30-something single woman who runs a small restaurant out of a stall in an older section of Shanghai. While she isn't a mother, she is in many ways the matriarch of the family, caring for her nephew, struggling to keep her brother out of trouble with drugs, and most importantly, trying to regain possession of the family home lost during the Cultural Revolution.

When a well-dressed, polite gentleman fixates on her and repeatedly visits her modest eatery, she begins to believe that her lonely life can change and happiness is possible after all.

Actress Tao Hong, who received the Best Actress award at Shanghai, is absolutely captivating as the harried businesswoman, a person who doesn't fit into the world where she lives. And director Huo's depiction of a China caught between the traditional and the modern can only add to our understanding of one of the world's most complex societies.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details


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