Saturday, August 13, 2011

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Rhoades)

“Snow Flower” – A First Film for Murdoch’s Wife
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

During media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s testimony before British Parliament about the phone hacking scandal, a prankster tried to hit him in the face with a shaving-cream pie, but Murdoch’s young Chinese wife leaped forward to block the assault like a real-life superheroine.

Born in Jinan, China, Wendi Deng came to America on a student visa, studied economics at Cal State, and graduated from the Yale School of Management. Working for Fox TV and Star TV, she met and married Murdoch, 37 years her senior.

Whether it was to please his wife or simply a business decision, Murdoch personally arranged for his Fox Searchlight Pictures to release the film “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.” Wendi Murdoch is the film’s co-producer.

After reading Lisa See’s novel “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” Wendi and her friend Florence Low Sloan formed BigFeet Productions to make a movie based on the book. Directed by Wayne Wang (“The Joy Luck Club,” “Chan Is Missing”), the film was shot in Hengdian, the movie capital of Shanghai and the largest film studio in the world.

“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” is now playing at the Tropic Cinema. A long way from Hengdian.
The story: Two best friends in 19th-Century China – Snow Flower (Gianna Jun) and Lily (Li Bing Bing) – are separated by their families, but continue to communicate by a secret code. Many years later in Shanghai, their descendents – Sophie (again Gianna Jun) and Nina (also Li Bing Bing) – discover their ancestral connections via a message hidden in the folds of an antique silk fan.

This tale of sisterhood is set against the rigid cultural restrictions imposed on women in China.

Playing the role of an aunt is Vivian Wu. She has appeared in “The Last Emperor,” “Heaven & Earth,” and “The Joy Luck Club,” among others. Also look for an appearance by Hugh Jackman, known for such popular fare as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Swordfish,” “Australia,” and “Scoop.”

Psst. Don’t tell anybody but the actress who plays the title role of Snow Flower (Gianna Jun, also known as Jeon Ji-hyun) is actually South Korean.

Florence Sloan writes, “I had signed on to produce my first feature film, ‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,’ after falling in love with the book by Lisa See. My partner, Wendi Murdoch (also a first-time producer) and I had been working on this since 2007. Wendi and I are close friends and during one of our regular meetings, we started talking about See’s book that we had read independently of each other. We both loved the book and connected over its compelling story, which centers around the universal theme of the bonds of friendship. We knew it should be made into a movie.

“Battling jet lag, I met up (in China) with Wendi, who had flown in from New York. We went to meetings with Wayne Wang and Jessinta, our line producer. After listening to all the problems we faced, I thought, “Hmm – maybe this producing thing isn’t as simple as it looks.”

But the two girlfriends persevered, despite “dirty bathrooms where we took showers in our shoes, to being so cold we looked like polar bears as we wore every single item of clothing we had, to the battles to understand and decipher the loads of documents that came our way and having to negotiate terms we did not yet understand.”

“Do not give up, get the job done” became their mantra.

“At the end, ‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ is a movie we are proud of,” says Sloan. “And yes – we will be producing again.”

Get out your checkbook, Rupert.
[from Solares Hill]

1 comment:

Angela C said...

Do try to see this movie before it leaves. Some of the critics & public ratings online do not reflect what a sweet film this is. I went not having read the book--but ladies sitting nearby me had. I could hear the sound of tears at the end. The movie has no big action scenes but the sensibilities are heart wrenching especially for women who can relate to the plight of women who have to deal with the realities of their culture. For men who have the patience they may also come away with a better understanding of women! The whole foot binding culture represents so much more about the history of womens freedom. Much of the film is in English so for those that avoid translated films give this film a try.