Peng Xiaolian

Peng Xiaolian
b. 1953, Shanghai
Film director/writer
One of the female graduates of the Beijing Film Academy class of 1982, Peng Xiaolian shares the collective label of the Fifth Generation (film directors) but is interested in different narratives and forms. Her directing career began at the Shanghai Film Studio with a children’s film, Me and My Classmates (1985). A director and a writer, she has scripted most of her films.
Peng is best known for her second feature film, Women’s Story (Nüren de gushi, 1987). The film follows three peasant women who step out from their village and traditional roles to pursue wealth and freedom in the city. Seen from a woman’s perspective, the film communicates a strong sense of gender consciousness. The difficulty in finding a language that speaks for female experience prevents the film from achieving a female subjectivity. Indeed, the rise of gender consciousness coupled with the lack of feminine aesthetics is a problem central to women’s film production.
In 1989, Peng Xiaolian came to the United States on a scholarship to pursue an MFA degree at New York University. After returning to China, she continued to make films in Shanghai, including Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (Shanghai wangshi, 1999) and a children’s animation, Keke’s Umbrella (2000). A new project explores how a teenage girl growing up in a single-parent household pretends to be normal although everything around her strikes her as abnormal. Peng Xiaolian also scripted and directed Jiazhuang mei ganjue, 2002.
Berry, Chris (1988). ‘Interview with Peng Xiaolian’. Camera Obscura: A Journal of Feminism and Film Theory 18 (September): 26–31.
Cui, Shuqin (2003). ‘Feminism with Chinese Characteristics?’ In idem, Women Through the Lens: Gender and Nation in a Century of Chinese Cinema, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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