Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
Vivian Qu’s enthralling drama about an illegal teenage worker who witnesses something suspicious, and two young girls who are the victims of abuse, is a deeply resonant film, even more so since the #MeToo movement. Surveillance and paranoia were dominant themes in Qu’s debut feature Trap Street and the dramatic structure of Angels Wear White hinges on a single piece of CCTV footage, impulsively captured by Mia (the wonderful Wen Qi) on her mobile phone while working a late shift at a cheap hotel.
Qu has a potent grasp of storytelling and from this single incident, and the moral dilemma it presents she spins a compelling narrative about gender, exploitation and corruption. Working with cinematographer Benoît Dervaux, regular camera operator for the Dardennes, her social realist approach is imbued with symbolic beauty, most sublimely apparent in the film’s closing sequence. Angels Wear White confirms Qu as an exciting new voice in independent Chinese cinema (she was also producer on the Berlin-winning Black Coal, Thin Ice, NZIFF14) and she brings a distinctively feminist perspective to a subject that is rarely tackled with such nuance and empathy. — Clare Stewart