The king of Masks movie poster image from IMDb.
Malden Reads and The Chinese Culture Connection both collaborated on hosting a special movie screening in relation to this year’s book selection, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. The movie they chose to screen is called The King of Masks. Both groups will be working together for a series of activities to celebrate the Chinese culture and community.
The King of Masks is a Chinese film directed by Wu Tianming in the year of 1996. It follows an old man by the name of Wang who is a street performer and master in the art of Sichuan Change Art of masking hence why he is given the title (King of Masks). After his wife abandons him with their son who unfortunately dies of an illness, he becomes lonely and desperate for a son to teach his skills and mastery of mask changing in order to continue the tradition. Wang then comes across a young boy to adopt as an apprentice at a illegal child market. To much of his surprise, he is actually a girl by the name of Doggie which causes quite a mayhem throughout the movie.
Both the movie and the book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, are both similar in terms of the themes incorporated such as adoption and culture tradition. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane follows a young girl by the name of Li-Yan through her adolescent years in which she has to give up her newborn just like how Doggie was abandoned by her father. It also explores the culture of tea making along with the relationships between mothers and daughters just like the family dynamic in the movie on how boys were much higher valued than girls.
Mei Hung, Executive Director of the Chinese Culture Connection gave some insight on Sichuan art and how in China, it is a “ popular “ attraction for people to view as a part of the “ street entertainment” industry. Hung also added along the fact that many people pertained to a lifestyle like this and in order to have the tradition live on, it passed down between generations.
Malden Reads Volunteer Linda Zalk explained that in consideration of the book selection focusing on a young Chinese girl growing up in the United States, they thought it would be “ important” to show “ something with [a] Chinese background and also [ has subtitles]” to “ encourage more “ of the Chinese community to come. Overall, they wanted to showcase a film that had no relations to politics and one that residents in the community can find enjoyment in while watching.