This screening is held at National Gallery of Art, East Building, large auditorium.
A Sirkian melodrama of the highest order—put to the service of Maoist principles of loyalty and sacrifice—Stage Sisters follows the lives, loves, and artistry of an itinerant Chinese opera company during the 1930s and 1940s. The film’s titular “sisters” are, in fact, friends who take divergent paths: one suffers nobly in the provinces while the other is corrupted by the sinful pleasures of Shanghai nightlife.
Although director Xie Jin, with his exquisite sense of color and fluid camerawork, showed the makings of a wonderful film stylist, party officials condemned Stage Sisters for advocating “the reconciliation of social classes.” Xie soon became a victim of the Cultural Revolution: his parents both committed suicide, and his career was derailed by a ten-year “rehabilitation” in a forced-labor camp followed by house arrest. He was permitted to make films again in the mid-1970s under strict censorship control, but he was attacked by some critics as a Communist hack. Only recently has a newer generation of Chinese filmmakers, including Jia Zhangke, shown a renewed appreciation for Xie’s work.
Description by the Museum of Modern Art. Restored by Shanghai International Film Festival, in collaboration with Shanghai Film Group, Shanghai Film Technology Co., and the Shanghai Film Museum, with funding by Jaeger-LeCoutre. (Dir.: Xie Jin, China, 1964, 112 min., DCP, Mandarin with English subtitles)
Images c/o China Film Museum and Shanghai International Film Festival