The Vagina Monologue: Stories Behind the Scenes
Hu Jie and Ai Xiaoming
Release year: 2004
Run time: 40 mins
Film type: Documentary
The Vagina Monologues is a pioneering feminist drama created by the American woman writer Eve Ensler. In order to participate in the global "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women", in 2003 the play was adapted by teachers and students of the Sun Yat-sen University Gender Education Forum in Mainland China, adding an artistic interpretation of the gendered experiences of Chinese women. It was performed at the Guangdong Museum of Art. But in a country that talks publicly about sex changes, teachers and students encountered responses they could not have imagined. This film records what happened to these teachers and students following the performance of The Vagina Monologues. It shows the repercussions that the word vagina has when uttered on a large public stage, and the humour on and off the stage; the scenes, the painful experiences of the women, and the prejudice encountered by the performers. It records the attitudes of local governments across China to this play, women’s understanding of this play, and their own experiences. It shows the behind-the-scenes story of China’s response to this drama.
Hu Jie is an independent historian, artist, and filmmaker. Born in Jinan, Shandong in 1958, he graduated from the Art College of the People’s Liberation Army. He works in oils and woodcuts from his lakeside studio in Nanjing. His films are among the most important documents of China’s unacknowledged “unoffcial history”, and include Looking for Lin Zhao’s Soul (2005), about a martyr-poet critic of Mao; and Though I Am Gone (2007), about an elite Beijing girls’ high school whose students murdered their headmaster at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.
Ai Xiaoming is a feminist professor at Sun Yat-Sen (Zhongshan) University, the Director of the Comparative Literature Section in the Department of Chinese, and the Program Leader of the Sex/Gender Education Forum. She has also worked as a translator and director for the Chinese version of the performance 'The Vagina Monologues.' Additionally, she has collaborated with Hu Jie on documentaries such as 'Taishi Village,' 'Painting for the Revolution - Peasant Paintings from Hu County, China,' 'White Rainbow,' and 'The Vagina Monologues: Stories from China.' The latter was selected for the Women’s Film Festival organized by City University of New York as a side event of the United Nations' 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.