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Title in latin alphabet XIANG HUN NV | Original Title 香魂女 Status Completed | Year 1993 | Duration 107 min | Language Mandarin | Country China | World Premiere Berlin International Film Festival 1993 | Festivals and Awards Best Actress Award at Chicago International Film Festival (1993), Best Screenplay Award at Beijing Film Academy Award (1993), Best Ten Chinese Film at Hong Kong Film Awards (1993), Golden Bear Award at Berlin International Film Festival (1993).


Xiang makes the best sesame oil in the neighbourhood while taking care of her drunken husband and their mentally handicapped son. Later she buys her son a wife and expends the business with an investment. But when money and a forceful personality fail to bend others to her will, Xiang must find another way to tranquillity.


In a rural area in China, Xiang was sold as a Child Bride to her present husband, a man with a lame leg, when she was seven. She has an intellectually disabled son Dunzi, who suffers from epilepsy and is now grown up, and a younger daughter Zhi’er. Through her diligence, she has started a successful sesame oil mill and now becomes the richest person in her village.
A Japanese businesswoman decides to invest in her business after visiting her mill. Meanwhile, Xiang tries to find a bride for her son. She organizes her son’s marriage with Huanhuan, a peasant girl whose family is in difficult financial situation.
One night, Dunzi nearly strangles Huanhuan to death during a fit. Huanhuan runs back home, but her mother-in-law makes sure she returns. Huanhuan witnesses her drunk father-in-law beating Sister Xiang in bed. She also witnesses Xiang’s affaire with family friend Ren, who fathered her daughter Zhi’er.
Ren later initiates a break-up with Xiang. Xiang falls ill. She is heartbroken, despite her sesame oil being awarded top prize by the provincial government.
Xiang gradually realizes that Huanhuan, like her, suffers as a kindred spirit. She decides to release Huanhuan by asking Huanhuan to go for a divorce. But Huanhuan states that her life is already ruined. She then breaks down.


XIE Fei (b. 1942 China) is one of the greatest Chinese directors of the 4th generation. He graduated from Beijing Film Academy of China then was hired there as a professor, later appointed as Chair of the Directing Department and Vice-President. Several of his films have been distributed in the west and won both domestic and foreign festival awards, including the Golden Bear in Berlin in 1993. He now works and lives in Beijing where he is still teaching as art consultant at BFA.

His directorial style is introspective, insightful and quietly immersive. He takes viewers on slow, intensely personal journeys into the lives and loves of ordinary people – some lonely and filled with unspoken yearnings and naive hopes as they toil against the relentless confines of their everyday existence and others resonating with the unflagging strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

“The best films are not just about unique individuals, they are metaphors for the society and time in which they are made.” – XIE Fei


Drama | Classic | Social issues | Women | Family






Siqin Gaowa, WU Yujuan


Producer: MA Huiwu, WANG Jie
Script: XIE Fei
Cinematography: BAO Xiaoran
Music: WANG Liping
Editor: LIU Jinwen


Golden Bear Award
Berlin International Film Festival
Germany / 1993


Best Actress Award
Chicago International Film Festival
USA / 1993

Best Screenplay Award
Beijing Film Academy Award
China / 1993

Best Ten Chinese Film
Hong Kong Film Awards
Hong Kong, China / 1993

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