Kaige Chen



Chen is one of the leading members of the “Chinese fifth generation of directors” (besides Zhang Yimou) who enrolled to the Peking Film Academy and started to make films after the Cultural Revolution. At the age of fifteen he was forced to publicly renounce his father, Chen Huaiai, at the time a politically unfit director. In the 1960s he worked at a rubber plantation and served in the army. When in 1975 Mao Tse Tung’s reign neared its end, he returned to Peking and worked in a film laboratory. Three years later, he started studying film. His first acclaimed film was Yellow Earth (Huang tu di, 1984) and afterwards he made the unnoticed Da yue bing (The Big Parade, 1986) and Hai zi wang (King of the Children, 1987). During 1987 he received a scholarship for film studies at the University of New York where he made his next film Bian zou bian chang (Life on a String, 1991). His biggest commercial success was the film Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji, 1993). His other films include the drama Feng yue (Temptress Moon, 1996), historical Jing ke ci qin wang (The Assassin, 1998), Killing Me Softly (2002), made in American production, drama He ni zai yi qi (Together, 2002), historical fantasy The Promise (Wu ji, 2005) and Mei Lanfang (2008), a biography of the Chinese opera singer.


Films by this director

Farewell My Concubine

(Ba wang bie ji, 1993)

Directed by: Kaige Chen

This is a story about two friends and professional collaborators. During fifty years of political turmoil in China, we follow their life stories. The two friends, Dieyi and Xiaolou, have been together since childhood, when they were trained in the Chinese Opera. Later they perform together on stage, one specializing in female roles and the other in those of emperors and warriors. Privately, their relationship will be shaken when Xiaolou starts seeing a woman.

color, 171 minuta

The Promise

(Wu ji, 2005)

Directed by: Kaige Chen

In a war devastated country, a girl named Qingcheng earns a living for her mother and herself by robbing soldiers’ corpses. She meets the goddess Manshen who makes her an attractive proposition: she will make her pretty and attractive to men, she will wear nice clothes and will not be hungry, but in return, she will never know true love. The girl accepts the offer knowing that the spell will be undone only if impossible conditions are met.

color, digital, 121 min
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