Moving as effortlessly between movie genres as she does between languages—from martial arts epics to comedy and drama; from Mandarin and Cantonese to English and French—Maggie Cheung is a completely contemporary international screen icon. Having acted in more than eighty films, Cheung is one of Asia’s most recognizable faces and frequently adorns the screens of film festivals and cinemas around the world. Born in Hong Kong and raised in the UK, as a teen Cheung was scouted by a modeling agent while on holiday in her birth city. Cheung’s modeling work and beauty pageant success eventually led to roles in the burgeoning Hong Kong film scene. From the mid- to late 1980s Cheung was an appealing fixture in the industry, playing supporting parts in dozens of films, but it was not until directors Wong Kar-wai and Stanley Kwan cast her in more significant roles that the scope and depth of her talent were revealed.
This series showcases some of Cheung’s most iconic performances. Whether as a silent film star in Stanley Kwan’s Center Stage, the struggling emigre in Peter Chan’s Comrades: Almost a Love Story, or the “character” of Maggie Cheung in Olivier Assayas’s Irma Vep, his cinematic ode to Louis Feuillade’s Les vampires; in her award-winning portrayal of a recovering addict in Assayas’s Clean, or her exuberant embodiment of a giant snake spirit longing to know human desire in Tsui Hark’s Green Snake, Cheung imbues each of her characters with uncommon wit, strength, and grace.
Kate MacKay, Associate Film Curator