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Maggie Cheung stars as silent screen legend Ruan Lingyu in Hong Kong Second Wave master Stanley Kwan’s elegant meta-modernist biopic.
The most important actress of prewar Chinese cinema, Ruan Lingyu took her own life at the age of 24 after she was savagely attacked by the press over an adultery scandal, but her extraordinary legacy continues to be a significant source of inspiration for Chinese artists. Director Stanley Kwan, famous for his lush period films, paid Ruan her greatest cinematic tribute with this exceptionally innovative biopic, and created a new screen icon in the process: Maggie Cheung, whose performance won her the prize for best actress at the Berlin Film Festival and launched her as a massive global star. An elegant and complex blend of fiction and non-fiction, Center Stage alternates between exquisitely detailed recreations of key moments from Ruan’s life, clips from her films, and charming on-camera conversations between Kwan and Cheung about Ruan. Celebrated in much academic and critical writing as a key text about the status of women in 20th-century cinema, Center Stage is above all a heartfelt and achingly beautiful testament to one of the true legends of the cinema. “Tender, vivid and almost overwhelmingly moving” (Tony Rayns, Time Out London).
New restoration from the original negative approved by director Stanley Kwan.
Content advisory: mature themes, including suicide
Cantonese, Mandarin, English