The only script designed and used exclusively by women on “Hidden Letters” on INDEPENDENT LENS – March 27 at 10 pm

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Directed by AwardWinning Filmmaker Violet Du Feng, the Film Follows Two Millennial Chinese Women Connected by Their Desire to Protect the CenturiesOld Written Language of Nushu as They Forge Their Own Paths in Patriarchal China


For centuries leading up to the 1949 Communist Revolution, repressed women in China, who categorically were denied literacy and forced into oppressive marriages, communicated through Nushua secret language considered one of the most extraordinary methods of feminist protest. Connecting generations of Chinese women, Nushu’s history of sisterhood and survival in a patriarchal culture is carried out through the lives of Hu Xin and Simu, the presentday women protecting its legacy. “Hidden Letters” introduces Nushu through a contemporary lens, shining a light on the women’s liberation movement in China over the centuries to the state of women’s rights today.

older chinese woman reading a parchment with middle age woman reading alongDescribed as “a deep and wonderful rebellion” by feminist writer and activist Gloria Steinem and named one of the “Most Powerful Arthouse Films of 2022” by Vice, “Hidden Letters” makes its television debut on INDEPENDENT LENS on March 27, 2023, at 10 p.m. ET. The film will also be available to stream on the PBS Video App.

Emmy® Awardwinning documentarian Violet Du Feng (“Harbor from the Holocaust,” “Confucian Dream,” “Maineland,” “Please Remember Me”) began working on “Hidden Letters” to start a conversation about women’s issues in China, still largely considered a political taboo. The film dives deep into how the clandestine tradition of communicating with Nushu has provided women a safe space to share their stories, express hope and solidarity, and affirm their dignity in the face of patriarchal struggles.

medium shot of Chinese woman writingThroughout the documentary, the film’s primary subjects struggle to find balance as they operate within a society dominated by men. In rural Jiangyong, 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.

‘Hidden Letters’ brings a different perspective to feminist discourse, sharing a secret language of sisterhood with a global audience and connecting our history to today’s issues, including genderbased violence, economic inequality, and reproductive rights,” said Feng. “It was important to show an intimate, observational perspective on how women operate within a society
dominated by men and honor the resiliency that has passed down through generations, which we hope will resonate with the INDEPENDENT LENS audience.