What if there was a method for ladies to communicate with one another secretly? For girls to freely specific their innermost sorrows and needs with out the understanding of males? Such a language exists – and has existed for 1000’s of years – in Jiangyong County of Hunan, China.
Violet Du Feng and Zhao Qing’s “Hidden Letters” follows two millennial ladies, Hu Xin and Wu Simu, who’re defending the centuries-old language system of Nüshu (女書), which interprets to “ladies’s script.” Nüshu is a syllabic script derived from Chinese language characters invented and handed down generationally by peasant ladies who had been denied training, had their toes sure, and had been imprisoned by oppressive marriages. “To offer one another hope, they invented a language that males didn’t perceive,” we’re advised within the trailer.
Hu, a museum information, and Wu, an aspiring musician, work to protect the “secret language of sisterhood” in opposition to the ravages of a “perpetually patriarchal society,” the doc’s synopsis particulars. Though 1000’s of years have elapsed for the reason that invention of the clandestine script, little has modified within the marital sphere for contemporary Chinese language ladies. As one topic reveals within the trailer, “Like within the previous days of Nüshu, my husband is the king.”
The founding ethos of Nüshu itself, nevertheless, has been corrupted since its heyday. The trailer sees one man presenting a so-called Nüshu cellphone to a gaggle of ladies and one other declaring that “Nüshu is about obedience, acceptance, and resilience. So long as ladies have these three values we’ll have an excellent society.”
One interviewee, an aged lady, laments the bastardization of the once-sacrosanct language. “Nüshu was about sisterhood,” she remembers. “Our letters to the sisters had been all very personal, to share our sufferings secretly. No matter it’s now has nothing to do with the Nüshu we had.”
“One piece of recommendation to different feminine administrators is to belief your feminine intuition when portraying such intimate topics. Now we have the nice benefit of portraying subtlety and tenderness in our cinematography. However in a male-dominated movie world, I used to be challenged throughout pitch boards [to make] the movie extra issue-oriented and express,” Zhao advised us in 2016.
Feng and Zhao are cousins and beforehand collaborated on 2015’s “Please Keep in mind Me,” a portrait of reminiscence, love, and dignity following an aged Shanghainese couple as they take care of the results of Alzeimher’s illness. Zhao directed the doc and Feng served as author and producer.
“Hidden Letters” hits theaters December 9. It premiered at this yr’s Tribeca Movie Competition and took residence the Grand Prize for Documentary Function on the 2022 Heartland Worldwide Movie Competition.