Wu Tianming (吴天明) and Luo Xueying (罗雪莹)
The Council on East Asian Studies and the Film Studies Program at Yale University are pleased to welcome to campus Renowned Chinese Film Director WU TIANMING and Producer LUO XUEYING for a special screening of
THE KING OF MASKS 变脸, 91 minutes, 1996, 91 minutes, 1996
Chinese with English Subtitles
Introduction Provided by WU TIANMING Q&A Session following the film with WU TIANMING and LUO XUEYING
The King of Masks tells a tale steeped in ancient tradition, simultaneously challenging the sociosexual inequity still plaguing China today. On the streets of Szechuan Province in the 1930s, the aged King of Masks, sole living master of “change-face” opera, delights and frightens audiences with the secret art of lightning-quick mask-shifting. His fondest wish is to pass on his skill to a male heir before he dies. Famous female impersonator Liang Sao Lang craves knowledge of the king’s secret technique, offering to relieve the old man’s poverty by taking him into his opera troupe. The king declines: what sort of heir would this half-female creature make? Instead, he buys an orphan on the black market, joyously showing him off as his grandson and heir. But soon the child is forced to disclose a dreaded secret–one that effectively renders him a person of no value according to Chinese custom. Once the secret is revealed, The King of Masks is torn between filial affection and ancient customs. Consecutive Chinese and English translation provided during introduction and Q&A session.
Wu Tianming is a distinguished Fourth-Generation film director and the godfather of Fifth-Generation filmmakers Zhang Yumou, Chen Kaige, and Tian Zhuangzhuang. His celebrated films include RIVER WITHOUT BUOYS, LIFE, OLD WELL, THE KING OF MASKS, AN UNUSUAL LOVE, and his most recent CEO (CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER), filmed in China and Paris. While head of the Xi’an Film Studio, he played a major role in unleashing the talent of recent Beijing Film Academy graduates Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, now international celebrities. Mr. Wu and colleagues have just launched a major, innovative, private-public film studio, Xi’an Qujiang Film & Television Investment (Group) Ltd., in Xi’an. Ms. Luo Xueying is currently the Vice Secretary of the Film Critics Association of China. She produced the following Wu Tianming films: “The King of Masks,” “CEO,” and “An Unusual Love.” She also was producer of Wu’s five TV series, “Black Face,” “The Yellow River Men,” “Love in the City,” “The Gadfly,”and “Stories in Nanyang.” Prior to becoming a successful film producer, she served as Editor in Chief of the influential journal “China Screen,” as researcher at the China Film Association, and as professor of philosophy at Beijing University (Beida).