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Thu Feb 27, 2020 – 7:30 pm | Hendricks Arts Center
Sat Feb 29, 2020 – 12:00 pm | La Casa Grande


Directed by Aleksandra Szczepanowska
Narrative Feature
USA | 97 min | 2019

Fei Fei, a married Caucasian western woman living in a small town in China with her family, meets Bai Yu, a Chinese blind masseur, and the two are powerfully drawn to one another. Against all odds, they come together in an intense love affair — a turning point in both their lives from which there is no return.

While Fei Fei tries to reconcile her attraction for Bai Yu, along with the stresses of her marriage to Zhang Hua, she pulls away from the affair. Unable to accept her betrayal of their connection, Bai Yu’s willful independence takes over. He grows obsessive, possessive, possessed.

Finally, Fei Fei, Bai Yu, and Zhang Hua find that the demons they’ve created can only implode in a clash of mixed desires and violent impulses.

Touch Poster

I was born in Poland, raised for the most part in America, and have worked around the world in different capacities and spent a considerable time in China. In this shifting geography, I have always been the other, and belonged nowhere. This has led me to make films that delve into characters who are not content with the status
quo or unable to express themselves freely because of societal or cultural barriers, but do so anyway and then get into trouble.
I find the idea of making a film in China about a Caucasian who is seemingly assimilated–a figure who very much exists in modern China but is rarely represented on screen–exhilarating. Exhilarating because this is a new representation, and because it is dangerous. The character of Fei Fei expresses the angst that comes with being the other. In her testing cultural taboos and in engaging in an affair with someone on the fringes of Chinese society, a blind man, Fei Fei’s behavior introduces challenges to the storyteller as much as it does the audience.
In creating the character of Fei Fei, I question whether her actions will be seen as those of a woman who is boxed in a second-tier city with a difficult family life, or as a foreigner misbehaving in China. Rather than simply entertaining the audience as much as possible, I want to engage them in this discussion. Why does it matter that she’s Caucasian? Or that Bai Yu is blind? Their sufferings and desires are universal and the moment a person judges them for what they are, not who they are then the film will have succeeded.

Touch - Aleksandra SzczepanowskaAleksandra Szczepanowska

Aleksandra SZCZEPANOWSKA is a New York-based writer/director of numerous short films including LET IT RING, co-written and co-directed with Jean Luc Ormieres, which premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival in 2013; and NAKED SOLES, also together with Ormieres, a mystery drama shot in Paris, sponsored by UniFrance, which won Best Short Film on Polish FilmWeb in 2012.

As an actor, Aleksandra has appeared off-Broadway and in productions directed by her long-time teacher, Tony-award winner Terry Schreiber. Previous to her work as a filmmaker and performer, Aleksandra worked in the fields of security, environment and energy in Africa, China, Europe and the US. She holds a BA in Political Science from Columbia College and an MA in International Affairs specializing in Energy Management and Marine Transportation from Columbia University. She is conversational in Mandarin Chinese, Polish, French and English.

Film Information

Director: Aleksandra Szczepanowska
Country: China
Year: 2019
Language: USA
Runtime: 97 min
Rated: PG-13, brief nudity


Writer: Aleksandra Szczepanowska
Producer: Aleksandra Szczepanowska
Music: Andrew Barkan
Cinematography: Wei Ji

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Principal Cast

BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival