For some movie directors, the roughest part of a shoot might be a watery caffe latte from the catering truck. Actress Joan Chen, who shot her directorial debut, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl, in the mountains of China and Tibet, had bigger obstacles to overcome. The air was so thin that the cast and crew had to take frequent oxygen breaks for the first few days; all the electricity in the region was shut off at 10 p.m. every night; and there was no place to bathe. “Everyone was so dirty, and I could smell myself,” says Chen, 38. “Because we ate yak meat and yak butter, the smell coming out of everybody was pretty pungent.”
But the hardships paid off. Xiu Xiu (pronounced “sho-of a girl sent to the countryside to be taught horse-herding by peasants during China’s Cultural outraged. To avoid censorship of the the Shanghai-born Chen cowrote with a childhood government, Chen shot in secret, smuggling the film out of the country. Last spring, China fined the actress $50,000 and banned her from working in her native land for a year.
Still, Chen, whose grandfather, a pharmacologist, committed suicide in the 1960s as a result of Communist persecution, has no regrets. The story, she says, “is emotional, personal. It had to be true to myself. So I didn’t want to give in. I was completely obsessed and possessed.”
The rift with China, Chen believes, is only temporary. In April she attended a White House dinner, hosted by President Clinton, for Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji. “I had a nice chat with him,” says Chen, who didn’t mention the film. “He was very gracious. I felt that things are not that seriously wrong.”
Chen has long been admired in her homeland. Born Chen Chong, the second child of prominent doctors (brother Chase Chen, now 40, is an artist in Los Angeles), she Golden Goose Sneakers Sale was handpicked at 14 from her riflery team by Jiang Qing, wife of Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, to play a “guerrilla girl who fights and shoots and kills people” in a propaganda movie. She went on to star in commercial films, winning China’s best film actress award for Little Flower.
Following her parents, who had accepted fellowships to a New York City hospital in the late ’70s, Chen moved to the U.S. in 1981 and eventually began studying filmmaking at California State University, Northridge. Soon after, she was discovered walking through a parking http://www.goldengoosesalestore.com lot by producer Dino De Laurentiis, who cast her in his 1986 epic Tai-Pan. A string of high-profile roles followed, including an opium-addicted empress in 1987’s The Last Emperor and the mother of a