Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

July 15th 2011
  • Drama/Historical,
  • PG-13,
  • 112 min,
  • Fox Searchlight
  • Cast: Bingbing Li, Gianna Jun, Vivian Wu, Hugh Jackman, Archie Kao, Wu Jiang, Angela Evans, Jennifer Lim, Christina Y. Jun
  • Director: Wayne Wang
  • Writers: Angela Workman, Ronald Bass, Michael Ray, Lisa See
  • Producers: Wendi Murdoch, Florence Sloan
  • Co Producers: Jessinta Liu, Andrew Loo
  • Associate Producer: Ted Perkins
  • Executive Producer: Hugo Shong
  • Art Direction: Molly Page
  • D.O.P.: Richard Wong
  • Editor: Deirdre Slevin
  • Makeup: Rondi Scott
  • Music: Rachel Portman


In 19th-century China, seven year old girls Snow Flower and Lily are matched as laotong - or "old sames" - bound together for eternity. Isolated by their families, they furtively communicate by taking turns writing in a secret language, nu shu, between the folds of a white silk fan.

In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong's descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated love lives, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai.

Drawing on the lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection, hidden from them in the folds of the antique white silk fan, or risk losing one another forever.

Basic Information

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Filming Locations: Shanghai, China
  • MPAA Warning: Sexuality, violence/disturbing images and drug use
  • Production Companies: IDG China Media
  • Production Schedule: 2 February 2010 - April 2010

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2011 Guide Analysis: "It's good to have friends in high places, and even better to be married to them. Wendi Deng Murdoch (Rupert's wife) and Florence Sloan (wife of MGM chairman Harry Sloan) produce this film adaptation of Lisa See's acclaimed 2005 novel which explains why it became one of the few films that Fox Searchlight acquires each year. Yet Searchlight isn't one for picking up trash either, no matter who is producing, and the good news is this adaptation seems to be in good hands.

After impressing with "The Joy Luck Club" in the 90's, Hong Kong-born filmmaker Wayne Wang made a series of forgettable Hollywood studio features ("Anywhere But Here," "Maid in Manhattan," "Last Holiday"). His last notable work was the well-received but barely seen companion arthouse features "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" and "The Princess of Nebraska" in 2007 & 2008.

Here though, Wang is poised to make something of a minor comeback with the help of a solid distribution network and a strong script adaptation by Ron Bass, Angela Workman and Michael Ray. The book itself is a tough read as it deals with protagonists whose lives are defined by their suffering and misery, though it also shows the familiar tale of two friends who start out at different stations in life and end up at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

This film also takes an approach akin to Madonna's upcoming "W.E." with two separate but parallel storylines - the main period piece, and a contemporary-set framing subplot which follows the two women's descendants who struggle to maintain their friendship as their demanding careers and complicated love lives get in the way. Zhang Ziyi was originally slated to star in and produce the film but had to drop out. Now the cast sports the likes of Bingbing Li, Gianna Jun, Vivian Wu, Archie Kao and even Hugh Jackman who will appear in the modern day Shanghai-set scenes.

The opening on July 15th, one of the few films set to take on the juggernaut of "Harry Potter", means it's probably not going to go for awards glory. It is however a clever marketing move to pull in a demographic, namely older women, who have little interest in the story of the boy wizard."

Trailers & Clips

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Worldwide Release Dates

  • 15 July 2011: Italy