Hu Du Men

The title of this entertaining 1996 Hong Kong movie, also known as Stage Door, is a Cantonese opera term for the imaginary line separating the stage from backstage, which becomes emblematic of the divisions in the story. That story, adapted by Raymond To Kwok-wai from his own play, concerns the producer and star of a Cantonese opera company (Josephine Siao) who’s about to abandon her career to emigrate to Australia with her husband and adopted daughter. (The anticipation of Hong Kong’s return to China is a major theme here, as it is in many recent Hong Kong films.) The adopted daughter is showing lesbian tendencies, and the heroine, a specialist in male roles, is experiencing some gender confusion of her own. Director Shu Kei–the most outspoken film critic of the Hong Kong film scene, as well as a programmer, novelist, and prolific screenwriter who’s worked for the likes of Anne Hui, Yim Ho, and John Woo–navigates issues of genre and gender with wit and aplomb. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday and Sunday, March 15 and 16, 4:00, 312-443-3737. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.