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Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild - Directors - Shu Shuen Cecille TANG
唐書璇 | TANG Shu Shuen Cecille

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Cecile Tang Shu-shuen was born in 1941 and grew up in Hong Kong. After graduating from the film department at the University of Southern California, she returned to Hong Kong and directed her first feature, The Arch, in 1969. The film won numerous awards, including the Special Award for Creativity at the 9th Golden Horse Awards in 1971 as well as the Best Actress Award for lead actress Lisa Lu. The film subsequently participated in the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes International Film Festival and the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland and was highly lauded at these events, which was unheralded for Chinese-language films.

In 1973, Tang directed China Behind in Taiwan and Hong Kong, about young intellectuals from China who try to flee to Hong Kong. At the time, the Cultural Revolution was still raging in China, and most filmmakers in Hong Kong shied away from this sensitive topic. China Behind was produced under much difficulties using non-professional actors shooting on-location in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Yet the rough-edged images shot by cinematographer Chang Chao-tang was praised for its documentary-like authenticity and dramatic immediacy. The film was shown in France but banned in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, not released until 1987.

In 1975, Tang founded Hong Kong’s first serious film magazine, Close-Up, a precursor to Film Bi-weekly (later named City Entertainment Magazine). Close-Up served as one of the main base for the Hong Kong New Wave. The magazine folded in 1978 after 66 issues.

Tang later directed Sup Sap Bup Dup (1975) and The Hong Kong Tycoon (1979) in an ironic, humorous tone in its depiction of social absurdities. Both films were produced by the late Hong Kong Literati and Culture Book House owner Wong Ching-hsi. Tang employed a commercial approach in these two films, but both critical response and box office receipts were disappointing. She retired from the film industry in 1979 and settled in the United States, She went to Beijing in 1981 to be the producer and writer for a television series co-produced by China and the United States.

Even though Tang’s oeuvre consists of just a few works, she has a deep and lasting impact on Hong Kong cinema. The Hong Kong Film Critics Society named The Arch and China Behind as two of the best 200 Chinese-language films of all time. In 2010, the Hong Kong Film Critics Society chose The Arch as one of the top 10 Hong Kong films of all time. In 2012, Tang collaborated with the Hong Kong theatre group Theatre Space on an English-language musical I,Ching, about the most powerful and controversial woman in contemporary China, Jiang Qing, which was performed in Los Angeles. Even though she had been in semi-retirement from the creative field for many years, her creative prowess was evident in the musical.

Year Chinese name English name Directors
1979 《暴發戶》
The Hong Kong Tycoon
1975 《十三不搭》
Sup Sap Bup Dup
1974 《再見中國》
China Behind
1969 《董夫人》
The Arch