FIRST NIGHT NERVES
八個女人一台戲Directed by Stanley Kwan
Cast: Sammi Cheng, Gigi Leung, Bai Baihe, Angie Chiu
Official Selection, 2018 Busan International Film Festival
It’s the week before opening night of Two Sisters, the anticipated new play starring Yuan Xiuling (Sammi Cheng), returning to acting after a five-year retirement, and He Yuwen (Gigi Leung), the starlet who supplanted her as the queen of Hong Kong entertainment. All eyes are on how the rivals will co-exist, and those seeking diva mind-games rejoice as the two joust through improvised dialogue and eye daggers during rehearsals. Meanwhile, their backstage team—from the all-controlling director to the bustling young assistants—dance around the actors’ every move, parrying distractions and unnecessary drama, all to ensure a hitch-free opening.
On paper, Stanley Kwan’s Almodóvar-ean theatrics should make for campy backstage thrills, but the Hong Kong legend aims for a more meditative portrait of show business. Looming behind the neon gothic flourishes and the glamorous fashions is a Hong Kong coming to terms with changing identities, where both Xiuling and Yuwen realize that for all their tabloid acrimony, they are the last of a distinguished generation slowly being displaced by Mandarin dubs and a new crop of mainland ingenues. Industry veteran Sammi Cheng must know all-too-well the emotional turbulence of her character’s fragile reign, while Gigi Leung brings to Yuwen a confidence quaking, as chance encounters lead her to re-assess the myth of her own professional origins. The show goes on, not because it must, but because, in the face of the quiet fade out, the stage is life itself. –Brian Hu
Admission includes a pre-screening reception from 5:30-7PM in the Ultrastar Lobby.
After the screening, please join us for a reception at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, with drinks and light appetizers at happy hour pricing.
Co-presented by: USD Intro to East Asian Cinema, La Jolla Playhouse
Dates & Times
Thu, Apr 11