Published on October 19, 2007
Not many Asian actresses climb up their professions to be directors. Among the few actresses-turned-directors is Taiwan's Sylvia Chang who has starred in, written, directed or produced more than 100 films during her 30-year love affair with the big screen.
The World Film Festival of Bangkok will pay tribute to Chang by presenting six of her films, and the 54-year-old show business professional will give a talk about her life and works on October 26 after the screening of 1977's "The Dream of The Red Chamber".
Among the highlights is her acclaimed "20 30 40", - a Golden Bear nominee at the 2004 Berlin International Film Festival. The title representing the ages of the main characters, "20 30 40" focuses on three contemporary women in Taiwan and their complicated lives. In the search for happiness and fulfilment, the three stories interweave through one another with humour, sadness and self-discovery.
Writer and director Chang also plays one of the leads - a 40-something divorcee adjusting to single life again. Superstar Rene Liu is a jaded, cynical flight attendant turning 30, and "The Eye" star Angelica Lee is a naive 20-year-old who dreams of becoming a pop star.
Chang's acting talent is reflected in Li Han Hsiang's "The Dream of The Red Chamber" (1977), an adaptation of the classic Qing Dynasty novel about the heightened pleasures of love and the despairing depths of betrayal.
Chang won best actress honours at the Hong Kong Film Awards for "Forever and Ever" (2001), which tells the true story of a man contracting the HIV virus through a blood transmission due to haemophilia. Before he died, the man, Xiao Fu, wrote a book in an effort to change the public's view toward people with HIV.
Others films include "Tempting Heart" (1999), "Siao Yu" (1995), which she co-wrote and directed, and "In Between" (1994), which she also co-directed.
Born in 1953 in Taipei, Chang was a popular local TV presenter at the age of 16. She made her acting debut in 1972 in the film "Tattooed Dragon". She then starred in a number of love stories and action movies, including "Chinatown Capers", "Eight Hundred Heroes", "Hong Kong Superman and Posterity" and "Perplexity".
Chang is perhaps best known to Thai fans for her role in the "Aces Go Places" series of martial arts comedies. She portrayed a policewoman who walked and talked like a man.
Chang turned to directing in 1983, with the romantic drama, "That Day on the Beach".
"I've learned so much about directing from my acting in the past 20 years. It's such a big help to me. I can better understand the feelings of the cast. I'm a trouble-shooter. I can quickly find ways to solve their problems," Chang said in an interview.
Sylvia Chang's films
are all in Mandarin with English subtitles
"The Dream of the Red Chamber" (Q&A)
7.30pm October 26, Cineplex 6
"20 30 40"
3.30pm October 27, Cineplex 6
"Forever and Ever"
1pm October 29,
3.30pm November 1, Cineplex 3
1pm November 3,
12.30pm October 28, Cineplex 6