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Women’s Equality in China Is About Opportunity, Says Director Vivian Qu

As the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements press for gender equity in the U.S., women in China’s film industry also suffer from a lack of opportunity and sexist treatment, director Vivian Qu said in Cannes on Sunday.

“The differences in remuneration between men and women in China are less obvious [than in the West], but they are well understood,” said Qu, whose child abuse and conspiracy drama “Angels Wear White” was the biggest breakout indie film from China last year.

“Any women-centric film proposal cannot get beyond a certain budget level. But if you take a male assistant to a meeting, then you can get more money. There is an assumption that women filmmakers cannot handle a big budget.”

Qu spoke at a seminar organized by global fashion giant Kering on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival. Other speakers at the event included singer-actress Chris Lee and actor Z. Tao.

Qu’s “Angels Wear White” probes an older man’s manipulative attention towards two underage girls and the way that civil society attempted to cover up his misdemeanors. The film had its premiere in Venice and Toronto. It was Qu’s second outing as director, after 2013’s “Trap Street.” Her producing credits also include 2014 Berlin competition title “Black Coal, Thin Ice.”

In another example of sexism in the industry, Qu said that, early in her career, she was steered towards romance films because she is a woman. “We should not label directors by genre,” she said. “They all have individual thoughts and ideas.”

China – along with other countries’ film industries – puts a heavy premium on women’s youth. “The aging process is worse in Chinese cinema compared with Hollywood. There, Frances McDormand can win an Oscar. In China we are asked by financiers to recast 25-year-olds in roles written for a 35-year-old.

Qu told Variety said that she had been too busy promoting “Angels Wear White” to settle on her next directing project. “But nothing is a problem if you are determined enough.”

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