Louisa Wei on Filmmaker Esther Eng
45 min. talk, followed by 30 min. Q&A
City University of Hong Kong professor and director of Golden Gate Girls (see below) Louisa Wei will speak about the pioneering Chinese American filmmaker Esther Eng (1914-1970) and her cultural milieu. Like Bruce Lee, Eng was born in San Francisco Chinatown into a family involved in Cantonese opera. Those connections eventually led Eng to cast the infant Lee in his first screen role (as a baby girl) in her film, Golden Gate Girl (2014).
GOLDEN GATE GIRLS
Hong Kong, 2014
Director: Louisa Wei
Louisa Wei’s documentary unearths the remarkable story of director-producer Esther Eng, who decades before Lee similarly forged a transPacific filmmaking career, “becoming the most prominent woman director in Hong Kong in the 1930s” and for a period in the 1940s, “was the only woman directing feature-length movies in the US.” (Women Make Movies) While most of Eng’s 11 features are sadly lost, Golden Gate Girls gathers archival photos and interviews for its captivating portrait of an unconventional life (including clips from Golden Gate Girl with baby Bruce). Perhaps even more than the future star, Eng defied social and film industry norms as an open lesbian, at the same time occupying liminal status as a Chinese American “in between” majoritarian ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups on both sides of the Pacific. Golden Gate Girls does salutary service in uncovering Esther Eng’s overlooked place in American film history.
Digital video, in English and Cantonese with English subtitles, 90 min.
Note: Please dress warmly because this will be a nighttime outdoor screening.
5:00pm – Event Starts
5:00pm – Guest Talk from Louisa Wei on Filmmaker Esther Eng
6:30pm – Guest Talk Ends
7:00pm – Movie Screening Begins
8:30pm – Movie Screening Ends
9:00pm – Event Ends
The Chinese Historical Society of America in San Francisco is the oldest organization in the country dedicated to the presentation and preservation of Chinese American history. Since 1963, CHSA has strived to be a responsible steward of the remarkable narrative of the Chinese American community through education, exhibitions, and programming.
A big thank you to our partners the Bruce Lee Foundation, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, and Center for Asian American Media.