Skip to Content

Spilled Water 2014


Distributed by Alexander Street Press, 350 7th Ave/Ste 1100, New York, NY 10001

Directed by May May Tschao
DVD, color, 88 min.

General Adult
Education, Family, Feminism, Marriage, Poverty, Women’s Rights

Date Entered: 04/06/2018

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Ou Huaqing is a farmer-singer, Pu Ruixia teaches computer skills to rural women, Li Hua is a high-powered international lawyer, and single parent Liu Ying is a factory electrician. Despite personal aspirations and significant individual accomplishments, each of the women experiences gender bias in employment, education, property ownership, and politics. Whether rich or poor, rural or urban, married or single, educated or illiterate, traditional or modern, women are still seen as worthless commodities, no better than the eponymous 'spilled water.'

To find out more about the disparity between progressive rhetoric and repressive reality, Chinese-American filmmaker Tschao returns to the country of her birth to learn more about the current status of women in Chinese society. She interviews and follows each of the four women profiled as they go about their daily lives, recording both the struggles and triumphs of each. Wu Qing, a professor and activist, provides a further overview and background to some of the issues raised. Each concludes that women in China have come a long way but still have a long march ahead of them to achieve equality and equity. In her first documentary film, partially funded by the private, non-profit Long Family Foundation, Tschao clearly and respectfully captures what it is like to be a woman in China today. Recommended for women's studies and Asian studies programs.