A Letter From An Unknown Woman(一個陌生女人的來信) , 2004 A Letter From An Unknown Woman , 2004
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A Letter From An Unknown Woman(一個陌生女人的來信) , 2004

is a 2004 Chinese film written and directed by Xu Jinglei and is her second feature film as director after 2002'sMy Father and I. The film is an adaptation of Stefan Zweig 's 1922 novella of the same name which was also adapted in 1948 by screenwriter Howard Koch . The film stars Xu and Jiang Wen as lovers during the 1930s and 1940s in Beijing. The film was produced by Asian Union Film & Media .

San Sebastián International Film Festival .

In the winter of 1948, Beijing, a renowned writer ( Jiang Wen ) receives a letter from an unknown woman on his birthday. As he reads the letter, a female voiceover begins to recount a relationship he has forgotten. The woman, a Miss Jiang, tells of her first infatuation with the writer when she was in her early teens, when she was his neighbour at a siheyuan . When she moved back to Beijing years later as a student at the Peking Women's College, she had a brief liaison with him, after which she became pregnant. Days later, the writer had completely forgotten about her.

She gave birth to their son in Sichuan , during the war-torn years of the Second Sino-Japanese war . When she moved back to Beijing eight years later, after the war, she became a dance hostess to support her son. Although the two met again, the writer could not recognize her. They had one last liaison again. Though finding her familiar, the writer failed to pin down her identity. On the day after their son dies, she decides to write this letter to let him know of their existence.

Story

In the winter of 1948, Beijing, a renowned writer (Jiang Wen) receives a letter from an unknown woman on his birthday. As he reads the letter, a female voiceover begins to recount a relationship he has forgotten. The woman, a Miss Jiang, tells of her first infatuation with the writer when she was in her early teens, when she was his neighbour at a siheyuan. When she moved back to Beijing years later as a student at the Peking Women's College, she had a brief liaison with him, after which she became pregnant. Days later, the writer had completely forgotten about her.

She gave birth to their son in Sichuan, during the war-torn years of the Second Sino-Japanese war. When she moved back to Beijing eight years later, after the war, she became a dance hostess to support her son. Although the two met again, the writer could not recognize her. They had one last liaison again. Though finding her familiar, the writer failed to pin down her identity. On the day after their son dies, she decides to write this letter to let him know of their existence.

Interview

Xu Jinglei (b. 1974) is one of the most versatile young film talents in Mainland China. She first achieved popularity in her home country for her television roles but soon won acclaim for her film appearances, having starred in ten features since 2002. She received the Chinese Film Society Performance Award for her first major film role in Zhang Yang's Spicy Love Soup (1997), the Baihua Best Actress Award in I Love You(Zhang Yuan, 2003) and the Golden Rooster Award for Best Supporting Actress in Far from Home (Yu Zhong, 2002).

More recently, the Beijing-born actress and graduate of the Beijing Film Academy has taken on the role of director. Her first feature Wo he ba ba (My Father and I, 2003) was rewarded at home with a Golden Rooster for Best Directing Debut and invited to a number of international festivals. This success served as a springboard for her second feature, Letter from an Unknown Woman (2004), an imaginative and mature adaptation of Stefan Zweig's 1922 novella of the same name (previously filmed by Max Ophüls in 1948). Xu Jinglei's film won the Silver Seashell Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain in 2004.

As in My Father and I, the director is also the film's scriptwriter and protagonist, starring next to the internationally known actor-director Wen Jiang (Devils at the DoorstepRed Sorghum, Black Snow).

     Kinema: How did you become interested in Stefan Zweig's story?
     Xu Jinglei: I read a lot of Stefan Zweig's stories when I was in college. The second time I read his stories was right before I made the film. At the time, I was working on another script, a war topic, but I had a lot of trouble getting into it. When I read the Letter from an Unknown Woman again, I immediately decided to film it.

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