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Joan Chen

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“You Don’t Find Yaks in America”: Joan Chen on Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

An international movie star on screens both big (Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning The Last Emperor) and small (David Lynch’s mega-hit, Twin Peaks), Joan Chen’s film career went behind the camera with her feature directorial debut, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl. Released in the United States on May 7th, 1999 (the day the U.S. and NATO “accidentally” bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade), Chen’s film was adapted from a novella by Geling Yan and tells the story of the title character, a young girl (Li Xiaolu) who lives with her family in Chengdu and is being forced into Mao’s Down to the Countryside Movement. Eventually befriending Lao Jin (Lopsang), a man who has been castrated and left to serve as her caretaker in the mountainous region, Xiu Xiu longs for a return to her family as she is repeatedly taken advantage of and raped by men in the countryside, setting the story up for a very bleak but not unbeautiful conclusion.
Picture for “You Don’t Find Yaks in America”: Joan Chen on Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl