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Two Chinese millennial women must save an ancient secret treasure from falling into the wrong hands,

but don’t expect it will save them too.

Besides a well, one does not thirst. Besides a sister, one does not despair.
— a Nushu poem

I knew I wanted to tell a contemporary story, to connect Nushu with the state of women’s rights
in today’s China.
— Director Violet Du Feng

Women in China were historically forced into oppressive marriages and forbidden to read or
write by their households for thousands of years. To cope, they developed and shared a secret
language among themselves called Nushu. Written in poems or songs with bamboo pens on
paper-folded fans and handkerchiefs, these hidden letters bonded generations of Chinese
women in a clandestine support system of sisterhood, hope and survival.

Spanning between past and present, from sunken rice fields and rural villages to bustling
metropolitan cities, Hidden Letters follows two millennial Chinese women who are connected
by their fascination with Nushu and their desire to protect its legacy. In Jiangyong, Hu Xin
works as a Nushu museum guide and aspires to master the ancient script following the breakup
of her marriage. In Shanghai, Simu is passionate about music and Nushu, but marital
expectations threaten to end her pursuit of both. Influenced by Nushu’s legacy of female
solidarity, the two women struggle to find balance as they forge their own paths in a patriarchal
culture steeped in female subservience to men.



Documentary Feature Jury Winner & Audience Award Feature Winner 2022 - AAAFF

In competition - Asia Pacific Screen Awards

For more info and screening dates:

Format & Length

Feature Documentary.

  • Format & Length: HD, 86 min

  • Director: Violet Du Feng

  • Co-Director: Zhao Qing

  • DOP: Feng Tiebing, Wei Gao

  • Editor: John Farbrother

  • Composers: Chad Channon, Leona Lewis

  • Post-Production: Hinterland AS

  • Sound Design: FilmReaktor AS

  • Producers: Violet Du Feng, Mette Cheng Munthe-Kaas, Jean Tsien, Su Kim

  • Executive Producers: James Costa, Ken Pelletier

  • Co-Producers: Tanja Georgieva-Waldhauer, Betsy Tsai

  • Production: Fish & Bear (US, China), Ten Thousand Images AS (Norway),  Independent Television Service (ITVS), ARTE/ZDF

  • Co-Production: Elomag Pictures - Tanja Georgieva-Waldhauer (Germany)

  • Financed by: ITVS Independent Lens/PBS, ARTE/ZDF, Inmaat Pictures, IDA, EST, Chicken & Egg, Sundance, Johnathan Logan Foundation, Doc Society, Norwegian Film Institute, Viken Filmsenter, Fritt Ord Foundation, Bergesenstiftelsen.



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"Hidden Letters is an extraordinary film: masterfully conceived, strategically designed and highly crafted."

Documentary Magazine, July 9th 2022

"If there is such a thing as “female gaze” within filmmaking, Feng has captured it."

The Austin Chronicle, June 28th 2022

"This picture is for the women who have suffered and can now express their thoughts through a language that nobody would understand unless one took the time to truly try to grasp it. This is an important film that should not be missed."

Filmbook, June 14th 2022

"Feng and Qing have created a masterstroke of poetic cinema ..."

FilmThreat, June 11th 2022

"The past, present and future of women in China’s oppressively patriarchal society is a big topic to address in under 90 minutes, but Violet Du Feng’s unassuming but very moving documentary Hidden Letters covers a lot of ground."

Deadline, June 11th 2022

"Feng and Gao establish a rhythm for the film that conjures a nushu poem itself."

Alliance of Women Film Journalists, June 6th 2022

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