Out of Phoenix Bridge

A film by Li Hong

China | 1997 | 110 minutes | Color | DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 99609


This groundbreaking work from Li Hong, China’s first independent female documentarian, follows two years in the lives of four young women from the countryside who have come to Beijing for jobs. Although they work long hours as maids or street vendors and share a tiny room no bigger than a closet, they savor these years— between living as a daughter at home and returning to the village to marry —as probably the freest time of their lives. Documenting both her deepening relationship with these women and the gulf of experiences and opportunity that separate them, Hong carefully charts their hopes for a better future and dreams of self-determination.

In interviews and intimate footage, Hong elicits remarkably candid and complex testimony from her subjects as they frankly discuss their work, pressures from home, and experiences with men. A remarkable achievement, this touching film is a fascinating look at the lives of women whose experiences are rarely explored. As they straddle traditional and modern roles, their stories uniquely exemplify the conflicts between the swift changes in women’s roles occurring in China and around the developing world.


“... a remarkable work by China’s first woman independent documentarist...”

Chris Berry Cinema Studies, La Trobe University

“This is a powerful work in which a reportage approach transforms into a documentary.”

Yamagata Int’l Doc Film Festival


  • Yamagata Intl. Doc. Film Festival, Ogawa Shinsuke Prize
  • Munich Film Festival, Special Mention, Media Net Awards
  • New York International Documentary Festival
  • Festival International de Films de Femmes, Creteil, France
  • MOMA, New Chinese Documentary
  • San Francisco Int’l Asian American Film Festival


Li Hong

Li Hong was born in 1967 in Beijing and studied TV and film production in the Beijing Broadcast Institute. She started making short TV documentaries in 1991. In 1994 she started filming OUT OF PHOENIX BRIDGE, her first independently produced documentary. She currently resides in China and works in television. (09/09)


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