Wellesley, Mass. – Internationally renowned film director Ang Lee will visit Wellesley College on Saturday, October 26, to discuss his work. He will be joined screenwriter and CEO of Focus Features, James Schamus.The event will take place in Wellesley’s Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall at 10:30 AM. Wellesley’s Mingwei Song will moderate the talk; Lee and Schamus will also take questions from the audience. The event is free and open to the public.
Ang Lee has won Academy Awards for Best Direction Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Life of Pi (2012) and for Best Foreign Language Film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) in addition to numerous prestigious prizes from European and Asian film festivals. James Schamus is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, producer and film executive, and a widely published film historian and theorist. His long collaboration as writer and producer for Ang Lee has resulted in eleven films, including Brokeback Mountain; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The Ice Storm; The Wedding Banquet; The Hulk; Taking Woodstock and Lust, Caution.
“Ang Lee is one of the most important figures in Chinese cinema – and probably the most famous figure from Chinese cinema in the entire world,” said Mingwei Song, Assistant Professor of Chinese at Wellesley College. Song’s work specializes in modern Chinese literature, film studies and youth culture. Song has taught Lee’s films in various classes.
As moderator, Song intends to ask questions of the pair exploring their collaboration and career together as well as film themes before turning the questions over to the audience. One theme Song is excited to explore starts with the question, “Who is the tiger?” referencing the representation of the tiger in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi.
The Wellesley College Newhouse Center for the Humanities, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the Cinema and Media Studies Program are co-organizing this talk and a series of other events surrounding Lee’s visit on campus, including academic talks on related topics. On November 6, Professor Chris Berry of King’s College London, one of the world’s most respected film scholars, will visit Wellesley for a lecture titled “Eat Me! — Food in Ang Lee’s Films from Wedding Banquet to Life of Pi.”
Professor Berry argues that the dinner scene as a key trope in Ang’s films. Berry suggests that how Lee handles dinner scenes in his films, in terms of mise-en-scene, acting, dialogue, and shooting, is one of the keys to understanding each film. He also suggests that Life of Pi presents the ultimate Ang Lee dinner, when the “guests” eat each other – hence the title of his talk.
“After graduating from NYU, Ang Lee remained unemployed for six years. He spent a lot of time at home cooking for his wife,” Song said. “Cooking and food are themes that come up often in his films. You could say Lee cooked up his films while cooking at home. Lee completed several screenplays during this time; one of them was his major breakthrough The Wedding Banquet.”
Three more talks discussing Chinese cinema will be scheduled for the Spring 2014 semester, forming a series tentatively titled “Perspectives on Chinese Cinema.”
- The week of February 10, distinguished film scholar Professor Yomi Braester (University of Washington), will give a lecture titled “The Spectral Return of Cinema: Globalization and Cinephilia in Contemporary Chinese Film.”
- On March 13, Professor Rey Chow (Duke University), an influential literary theorists whose ideas have reshaped many aspects of cultural studies in the United States, will give a lecture titled “Watching China as a Documentary: Old Problems, New Challenges;”
- On April 24, Professor Jie Li (Harvard University) will give a lecture titled “Madame Mao and Cinema: Actress, Critic, Censor, and Producer,” which will focus on Jiang Qing’s lifelong relationship to cinema, her personal cinephilia and cinephobia and its impact on Chinese film history.
About Wellesley College
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been the preeminent liberal arts college for women. Known for its intellectual rigor and its remarkable track record for the cultivation of women leaders in every arena, Wellesley—only 12 miles from Boston—is home to some 2300 undergraduates from every state and 75 countries.