Esther Eng, Bruce Lee, and the Chinese-language Cinema in North America

November 03, 2022

This event is sponsored by SFU's David Lam Centre, Global Asia Program, and Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies.

San Francisco native Esther Eng (1914-1970) was a true legend. She was Hong Kong’s first “directress” and an open lesbian. In Hollywood in 1935, she rented a film studio, co-produced a Cantonese-language talkie, Heartaches, and brought it to Hong Kong. Without formal training, she became a film director in Hong Kong in 1937 and made five pictures in the next two years. When she returned to San Francisco, she directed Bruce Lee in his first motion picture: Golden Gate Girl (1941). Following Eng's footsteps, S. Louisa Wei made Golden Gate Girls in an attempt to recreate Eng's life in relation to that of Bruce Lee and two other Hollywood pioneer women: Anna May Wong and Dorothy Arzner. Against the backdrop of WWII, the film also maps out a Chinatown network in North America.



S. Louisa Wei

S. Louisa Wei is a documentary filmmaker and Associate Professor of Cinematic Art at the City University of Hong Kong. She is also the author of two award-winning books and a Member of the Hong Kong Director's Guild.