LFF Review: Hidden Letters

While we hardly live in an egalitarian utopia in the West, women’s rights are a lot more secure than in many places across the globe. However, we need to remain vigilant in defending these freedoms as there are those who want to take them away. Although the last century has seen much progress in the ‘developed world’, the way girls and women are treated in some countries is still archaic and barbaric. This used to be the norm everywhere, especially in the more religious societies.

While China remains a staunchly traditional society, not so long-ago women had next to no rights at all. Expected to wait on men, hand and foot, and afforded little independence. Historically forced into oppressive marriages, forbidden to read or write, they developed a secret language, called Nushu, between themselves in order to share their stories. Hidden Letters follows two young proponents trying to preserve its legacy in an increasingly patriarchal world.

Hidden Letters is an intelligent and perceptive documentary which subtly compares and contrasts the ignominies women have faced throughout Chinese history with the situation today. It certainly hasn’t been a great leap forward. Violet Du Feng and Qing Zhao’s film lets Hu Xin and Simu’s travails speak for themselves. As we follow them through their personal and professional struggles, Hidden Letters captures the daily obstacles that are placed in their path.

Hidden Letters screens at London Film Festival.

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