Huang Shuqin (born September 9th, 1939) is a Chinese film director known for her film Woman, Demon, Human (1987). Widely considered the first feminist Chinese film by critics and scholars,Woman, Demon, Human garnered universal critical acclaim, as well as a nomination for Best Director and a win for Best Writing at the 8th Golden Rooster Awards. Although her film career didn’t take off until she was well into her forties, she is regarded as one of China’s most talented female directors, with a career spanning nearly three decades.
Huang Shuqin was born September 9th, 1939 in Shanghai, China, to film director Huang Zuolin, a well-known playwright who had studied in England during the 1920s, and Jin Yunzhi. Walking in her father’s footsteps, Huang aspired to become a film director. She enrolled in China’s only film school at the time, the Beijing Film Academy, to study directing, graduating in 1964. Assigned to work for Shanghai Film Studio as a script supervisor, her career was interrupted when the Cultural Revolution took hold of China. This prevented many films from being made, and left the Huang family in difficult financial circumstances. In addition, Huang’s mother died during this time. Huang later attended a May Seventh Cadre School, which acted as a labour camp, for five years; two of which were spent under “isolation and surveillance” in a small room without contact from anyone as punishment for her possible involvement in the May 16th Notification in 1966. Huang also joined the Rebel Faction during this time.
After the end of the Cultural Revolution, she assisted director Xie Jin on the films The Cradle (1979) and The Legend of Tianyun Mountain (1980). Her debut film, Contemporary People (also translated as The Modern Generation) garnered widespread attention through its critical acclaim, which scholar Yingjin Zhang states grew as she directed more films, particularly Woman, Demon, Human.
Many of Huang’s films explore the theme of gender and woman’s consciousness. She has expressed the necessity to “insert herself” into her work, in order to give these films a personality, citing her gender as an important factor in her self-identity. Six of Huang’s films are about women, each with a focus on the fundamental aspects of women’s narratives and their relationship to mainstream ideology.