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Girl power goes big screen

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

08:30, June 11, 2012

Guo Xiaolu is bold and unflappable. Zou Hong / China Daily

Guo Xiaolu, one of China's few women filmmakers, believes many people aren't used to women speaking their minds.

"They believe women should be muzzled or tamed," she says.

"If you aren't, you're considered difficult. And if you have an opinion, you're considered bad-tempered."

Guo, whose works are gaining international attention as they snap up awards, is bold, unflappable and uncompromising.

She's open-minded in accepting the praise of her films and novels, which also breaks the stereotype of the shy woman.

Guo has been living in London and Berlin for years.

An ongoing comprehensive retrospective of her movies since 2003, plus her latest film, UFO In Her Eyes, which runs from May 20-June 10 at Ullens Center For Contemporary Art (UCCA), offers a glimpse of a pioneer among Chinese women.

It's the first time the 40-year-old will screen her films in Beijing. And she's curious about the feedback from audiences.

"Action movies have an incredible insurance policy - you know many people will see them," she says.

"If you're drawn to subjects like that, my films might not compel you."

How, then, has she succeeded?

The 10 movies she's made since 2004 explore themes of alienation, memory, personal journeys and visions of China's past and future in a global environment.

They have won awards at such international film festivals as the Locarno International Film Festival, Venice Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival.

Because Guo comes from a rural village, she tells stories about China caught up in the turmoil of globalization.

Guo also has the distinct advantage of being a writer. She has been a novelist, who has published seven novels in Chinese and English since 1999.

"As a director, you're not dependent on people sending you scripts," she says.

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