At last year’s Venice Film Festival, just one film from a female filmmaker — Vivian Qu’s “Angels Wear White” — was counted amongst the starry competition titles, and while Qu’s film didn’t win the big prize (that one went to Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” which went on to win a little something called a Best Picture Oscar), it walked away with its own timely distinction: it’s a #MeToo film made before #MeToo swept Hollywood. Just weeks after Venice wrapped, disgraced producer Harvey Weintsein was accused of multiple acts of sexual assault and harassment, setting loose a new era in the industry.
Qu’s film proved to be a prescient piece of #MeToo cinema during its premiere, and its power has only increased during the subsequent months between its Venice debut and its domestic release.
Half-noir, half-human drama, the film follows young hotel clerk Mia (Vicky Chen), who witnesses a horrific sexual assault perpetrated against a pair of young schoolgirls by a middle-aged man during a night shift. Terrified of losing her job, Mia chooses to stay silent — a choice made all the more complicated by one victim, young Wen (Meijun Zhou) who eventually comes to realize that keeping quiet might not be good for anyone, least of all her and Mia.
At this year’s Santa Barbara Film Festival, IndieWire’s Michael Nordine wrote of the film, “If you weren’t aware that ‘Angels Wear White’ premiered a month before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, you’d be forgiven for thinking Vivian Qu’s nuanced drama was made to show the #MeToo movement from a Chinese perspective. The actual assault is never shown, with Qu focusing entirely on the aftermath — a long, drawn-out process that’s no less traumatic than the event being covered up so systemically that it goes without saying this is far from an isolated incident.”
The film also screened at TIFF and the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, where Qu won the Golden Horse Award for Best Director.
Check out our exclusive trailer for “Angels Wear White” below.
“Angels Wear White” will open on May 4 in New York (The Metrograph) and on May 18 in Los Angeles (Laemmle’s Music Hall).