Spilled Water

Spilled Water is May May Tchao’s personal investigation to examine how the unprecedented transformation of China’s economy is also transforming its women, and vice versa. In particular, it shines a light on the lives of the rural women seldom portrayed in western media. The film tells the compelling stories of four women: a young rural woman who became a teacher against all odds; a Dong-minority singer torn between fulfilling her dreams and meeting her responsibilities as a peasant’s wife and mother; a successful lawyer in a male-dominated profession juggling demands of being a corporate executive and a single mother; and a divorced factory worker, betrayed by her husband, learning to be an electrical mechanic for a brighter future for her daughter.

Crafted with a hybrid style of direct cinema and cinéma vérité, these stories engaged the viewers with an “a-day-in-the-life” approach as seen through the director’s eyes. Through the voices of these women, this film provides an intimate and poignant thread that compares and contrasts the female experiences between diverse worlds and classes. It offers a new look at gender equality and a woman’s worth that resonates with other women around the world.

All these women have many differences — in education levels, resources and opportunities dictated by where they come from. But they all have one thing in common — they’re not afraid to actively shape their destinies through guts, grit and gumption. Their intimate stories are touching and sometimes heartbreaking, and they resonate with women around the world struggling for a better life.

Crafted with a hybrid style of direct cinema and cinéma vérité, these stories engaged the viewers with an “a-day-in-the-life” approach weaving slice-of-life vignettes with on-camera interviews and personal photos. How do 21st Century Chinese women view their worth and negotiate their rights in this cauldron of dramatic transformation? What is the price they have to pay? Through their voices, this film offers a new look at feminism and gender equality that recognizes women not as liabilities but as essential assets for the future of a nation.

Producer/Director: May May Tchao

Project Status: 
Completed