Xiaolu Guo: Event Horizons

Retrospective: She, A Chinese

  • She

    SHE © Xiaolu Guo Productions

Past Event

This event was on Sunday 12 May, 1-6pm

The five films in today’s programme – Far and Near; Address UnknownAn Archaeologist’s Sunday and We Went to Wonderland – all explore the experience of an Anglo-Chinese existence and its attendant tensions, and include Xiaolu Guo‘s Locarno Golden Leopard winning feature She, A Chinese.

Part of Not Just Me but You Too: Cinemas of Sisterhood, April 2019 – March 2020.

This year-long season of films, entirely by women and gender non-binary filmmakers, covers artists’ and experimental film, documentary and essay film, alongside filmmaker appearances, readings, discussion and guest speakers. Expect programmes dedicated to particular makers, themed programmes with contemporary artists and celebrations of key feminist thinkers, all in dialogue with Pages Cheshire Street, a new independent bookshop dedicated to women and non-binary writers.



Far and Near

She, a Chinese


15.15 break



Address Unknown

An Archaeologist’s Sunday

We Went to Wonderland



About the programme

Far and Near

2003 / 23mins

Leaving her country for the first time, a young Chinese writer wanders on a mountain in Wales. Through the wild landscape and the mountain people she meets she enters a dreamlike world where memories of life in rapidly developing Beijing and a childhood in a remote fishing village return to her. She contemplates loneliness and is unexpectedly haunted by stories of tragic death.


She, a Chinese

2009 / 90mins

A homage to Godard’s 1967’s La Chinoise, this is a portrait of a young woman on a journey of self-discovery in 14 chapters. Mei leaves her home village in southern China after refusing a marriage proposal, and heads to the big city. After a tragic encounter with a hit man she arrives in Britain. Her decisions about places and men are impulsive and infused by an instinct for freedom. Mei is an existential character born from a hybrid Chinese-European cinema.


Address Unknown

2006 / 11mins

From a Beijing apartment, a woman is writing postcards to a man in London. We don’t see the woman or the man, there’s only the camera contemplating Beijing with a melancholy eye. Each postcard is a long static shot. The woman’s voice tells her loneliness in a rapidly changing China: highways, labour workers, meat market, people in the street… All the postcards return – address unknown. Her lover seems to have disappeared from the other side of the world. On a rainy night, she cancels her return flight to Europe.


An Archaeologist’s Sunday

2008 / 8mins

Sunday afternoon: Romans are resting under the sun. Kids are playing football. Roberto, an archaeologist from Rome, is working in a dark cave beneath the park. He is passionate about finding the past and history, his Chinese girlfriend Zhuwen worries about the future and daily life. She argues with him, “Does your past save your future?” This is a meditative fictional essay on our relation to history and city of Rome, and part of Venice Architecture Biennale 2008.


We Went to Wonderland

2007 / 73mins

The old Chinese man has no voice. But he writes notes:

     “Water is so good in the West.”
     “Flowers are long dead on Karl Marx’s grave.”
     “English trains don’t respect people’s time.”
“When Picasso died, my daughter was born.”

He observes the drifting clouds while his wife looks at the Houses of Parliament. As he wanders in the Vatican, his wife is still praising English parks. This is the first and the last time they will leave China. He wants to see the whole world before he dies, but her heart longs for home. A Chinese daughter, the director, decides to record her parents’ journey to the West. Shot in black and white on meagre equipment, the film achieves exceptional freedom of style and intimacy. Minimalist, with hints of the French Nouvelle Vague, integrating stills and quotes, the film portrays a philosophical journey, going through cultural conflicts, love relationships, memories of personal histories, shadows of the turmoil of China’s past and two individuals in a global environment.

About the retrospective: She, A Chinese

One of the most distinctive figures in world literature and cinema, the multi-award winning Chinese writer and film-maker Xiaolu Guo has, over the last 20 years, crafted a singular body of film work, covering short and artist’s film, documentary, essay and fiction features, and her films have premiered at Locarno, Sundance, Toronto and Venice, among many other festivals. Tracking her own experience living between a radically changed China and the West, Guo’s films explore marginalised lives in transit across a globalised world.

This first complete retrospective presents all her films, and Guo will be present at each screening, throughout May.

Read a career interview with Xiaolu Guo here.

Xialou Guo’s First and Second Manifestos on Cinema.


About Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo is a Chinese British filmmaker and novelist. A graduate of the Beijing Film Academy and the UK National Film and Television School, she has worked both in Europe and China in cinema and literature. She is one of the inaugural fellows of the Columbia Institute of Ideas and Imagination in Paris and a jury member for the Man Booker Prize 2019. Her feature films include She, a Chinese (Golden Leopard Award, Locarno Film Festival 2009), How Is Your Fish Today? (official selection, Sundance Film Festival 2006, Tiger Award Special Mention, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Grand Prix at the International Women’s Film Festival, France) and UFO in Her Eyes(2011, produced by renowned German filmmaker Fatih Akin and premiered at TIFF). Her documentary features include Once Upon A Time Proletarian(Venice Film Festival Official Selection and TIFF 2010); We Went to Wonderland (ND/NF MoMA & Rotterdam International Film Festival 2008); The Concrete Revolution (Grand Prix, International Human Rights Film Festival Paris, Cinema du Reel 2004); Late At Night: Voices of Ordinary Madness (BFI London Film Festival 2013) and Five Men and a Caravaggio(BFI London Film Festival 2018). She is also an award-winning writer with eight novels published by Penguin Random House in the UK, and in Germany.

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