CAAM is proud to co-present Mei-Juin Chen’s The Double Life of Li XiangLan on Saturday August, 1st from 2-4 pm at Samsung Hall in the Asian Art Museum.
The film chronicles the life of Li XiangLan, a remarkable young woman who deftly navigated the clash of nations to become one of Japan and China’s biggest movie stars during World War II. She began her life as Yoshiko Yamaguchi, the daughter of Japanese settlers to Manchuria. She spoke fluent Mandarin and had a beautiful singing voice. Discovered by a Japanese talent scout, she was rechristened with a Chinese name, Li Xianglan (Fragrant Orchid). She rose to fame in a series of Japanese romantic melodramas playing the Chinese girl who falls in love with a Japanese man. She was an object of desire, an icon, an enigma of layered identities, actual and invented, and a propagandist’s dream. When Japan lost the war, her cover was blown and after a lengthy trial, escaped execution and was expelled from China and fled to Japan. She eventually married a Japanese diplomat and served as a goodwill ambassador and was active in the Women’s Fund to compensate comfort women. Using clips from rarely seen movies of the period, archival news footage, and home movies, the film raises questions that are still relevant today.
As part of the event, director Mei-Juin Chen will be in attendance. The hour long film will be followed by a Q&A with the award winning director. The film is free with museum admission, so guests will have the chance to check out the Asian Art Museum’s collection and exhibitions.
This program is co-presented by the SAA, Asian Art Museum, Japan Society of Northern California and CAAM.