One Tree Three Lives

Film Screening & Conversation with Filmmaker Angie Chen

Saturday, April 30, 2022
3:30 - 5:30 pm

Terasen Cinema
, Harbour Centre 1800 
SFU Vancouver
515 West Hastings Street

Free & Open to the Public

Register here



One Tree Three Lives – an intimate film on the novelist Hualing Nieh Engle, who has been a major influence on generations of writers in the Chinese Diaspora, and beyond. The director has known the author and her family since the Seventies.

At times sad, at times funny, the film reveals a woman of unusual charisma, integrity and determination, and a person in continual exile. Interviews with 26 writers present a lively variety of views and anecdotes.

Hualing Nieh Engle calls herself a tree, with roots in China, the trunk in Taiwan, and the many leaves in Iowa, USA. Born and raised in wartime China, she left Wuhan in 1949 for peace in Taipei, and then left for love in 1964 to the United States. She is the author of 24 books of fiction and non-fiction, which have been translated into various languages. She also initiated the International Writing Program in Iowa, USA – a world-renowned platform for writers since 1967. The co-founder was her now deceased husband, the poet Paul Engle. 

One Tree Three Lives is also their love story, a novelist and poet who created a strong and visible love.

In English and Mandarin with English subtitles

Film Trailer

About the Director

Angie Chen has been making films since 1978. She received her BA and MA from the University of Iowa, MFA in Film from UCLA, and lived in America for over more than a decade. She is now based in Canada.

In 1980 she was hired by Jackie Chan to assist-direct Dragon Lord in Korea, Taiwan and HK. Subsequently she worked in the HK film industry as director/producer, and teaching part-time in the Film Academy’s MFA Program at Baptist University (2003-2017). She is a member of the Hong Kong Film Director’s Guild and its committee board member (2012); juror for the Hong Kong International Film Festival Documentary Competition 2013; consultant with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council 2016; tutor for Operation Greenlight with Create HK, a program mentoring budding filmmakers 2016 & 2017; juror for the Global University Film Awards 2018, 2019.

Her first short Der Besuch (The Visit, 1980) as writer/director has been critically acclaimed and honoured internationally in Toronto, Caracas, Sweden, Montreal, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong. It was a film about her dying father in Germany, with whom she had been separated for seventeen years. 

After making three HK movie features in the eighties, Maybe It’s Love, My Name Ain’t Suzy and Love Riddle,  she entered the commercial film business in the nineties. My Name Ain’t Suzy has been revived (2018-2020) in festivals in New York, Udine, Manchester and Hong Kong. In 2008, she made a comeback to feature filmmaking, produced and directed three independent feature-length documentaries, all of which were shown in prestigious international film festivals and received numerous awards and commendations: This Darling Life (2008, nominated for Taiwan's Golden Horse Award), One Tree Three Lives (2012, Hong Kong Film Critics Society's Film Merit Award; Best Film and Best Director nominations in China's Chinese Film Awards); I've Got The Blues (2017, Best Feature-length Documentary Award, Festival Film Dokumenter, Hong Kong Film Critics Society Film Merit Award, and Special Award Film of Distinction,The Hong Kong Film Director’s Guild).

Read an in-depth interview with Angie on Mubi: A Bigger Voice for Women: Angie Chen on Directing Features in the 1980s

This event is hosted by:
Institute for Transpacific Cultural Research, SFU

Co-sponsored by:
Department of World Languages and Literature, SFU
Department of Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies, SFU
Hong Kong Studies Initiative, UBC