Yan Shanshan

Peng, Xin

While existing scholarly and documentary efforts are obsessed with naming Li Minwei (黎民偉) as the founding father of Hong Kong cinema, the contributions of female figures like his wife Yan Shanshan—except for being fetishized as the legendary first Chinese film actress—have been largely overlooked. On the other hand, while contemporary feminist film scholarship strives to recover the history of women working behind the scenes, the act of being in front of the camera in the particular historical and cultural context of early twentieth-century China cannot afford to be ignored. Yan’s role as a pioneer in Chinese film history thus not only derives from her involvement in business matters at her husband’s film companies, but also from the mere fact that she displayed her body, with an uncertain degree of willingness, in a new, and public, medium.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
February 10, 2020