Esther Eng

Wei, S. Louisa

In 1946, the Seattle Times described the visit of a young Chinese-American filmmaker: “Still in her teens, and with no background of such a venture, Esther went to Hollywood, rented a studio in Sunset Boulevard and made her first picture for Chinese markets here and in China” (n.p.). This may be somewhat of an exaggeration because Esther would have been in her early 20s, but her youth was still remarkable. Once called China’s first woman director by both the Chinese and American press, Esther Eng had been forgotten for twenty-five years after her death when, in the summer of 1995, Todd McCarthy, then chief film critic for Variety, came across her name in the credits of Golden Gate Girl (1941). It was a Chinese film Eng had directed in San Francisco. McCarthy provocatively claimed in the August 21-27 issue of Variety that Eng was “an Asian woman filmmaker who had utterly eluded the radar of the most diligent feminist historians and sinophiles” (10). This statement inspired veteran film critic Law Kar to research and write on Eng’s life and work, and he concludes that “[i]f Eng had worked in the film industry today, she could have easily been seen as a champion of transnational filmmaking, feminist filmmaking, or antiwar filmmaking” (313).


More About This Work

Academic Units
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
October 15, 2019