When a career woman meets the challenge of cancer
Actress-turned producer Yao Chen attends a press event following the premiere of their upcoming film Send Me to the Clouds on Monday, August 12, 2019. [Photo: China Plus]
There are many difficulties women encounter in a career-driven world: pressure from family and work and sometimes illness.
Veteran actress Yao Chen's latest portrayal is in the new film "Send Me to the Clouds", in which she plays strong-minded young journalist Shengnan (盛男), who is from a broken family and also suffers from cancer.
Shortly after Shengnan is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she soon realizes that she cannot afford the 300-thousand yuan (around 42-thousand US dollars) medical treatment. In order to raise money to cure her cancer, she accepts a job to write an autobiography of an old painter.
Shengnan is also unwilling to give up on her sex life, particularly while she's still young and single.
She is not the only woman experiencing hardships in the film. The story also touches on two other female characters: Shengnan's mother, who has long been staying at home as a housewife, and Shengnan's classmate. Each has her own problems.
The film aims to portray women's life in contemporary China, as women become increasingly independent.
The story was written by Teng Congcong, who is also the film's director. "I've learnt a lot from this process, including how to put a script into practice," she said. "If it's not an easy script to carry out, I need to improvise for the scene. I've had no such experience; fortunately, I learnt this from Yao Chen and other veterans involved in this project."
It's not a pessimistic story, thanks to the elements of humor throughout the dialogues between protagonist Shengnan and her friends, parents and her employer.
Yao Chen's co-star is actor Yuan Hong. Yuan plays a knowledgeable man, but who desires a comfortable life; so he's tied the knot with a less-educated woman from a ruthless businessman's family.
Here, his character forms a sharp contrast with the hard-working Shengnan: a man's choice to marry into a wealthy family versus a woman's financial struggle to pay medical bills independently.
Yuan Hong disclosed that he didn't ask for payment when accepting the offer, for he hopes more people would pay attention to this arthouse film telling women's stories from female perspectives.
Yao Chen is also the executive producer for Send Me to the Clouds. "I hope to better control and ensure the artistic quality of this upcoming film. Meanwhile, being in a position as executive producer would facilitate communication with the director."
Send Me to the Clouds is Teng Congcong's directorial debut. It is due to hit theatres on Friday.
Actor Yuan Hong (left), director Teng Congcong (second from left) and actress Yao Chen (third from left) attend a press event following the premiere of their upcoming film Send Me to the Clouds on Monday, August 12, 2019.[Photo: China Plus]