Eye of the film Tiger

By Patricia Fuentes

Tiger Hu wants to tell you about young Chinese prostitutes. It’s not a tragic story about their lives, and it’s not about the masses of illegal immigrants imported on boats en masse to uncertain futures abroad. It’s about acceptance of people marginalized in society, Chinese or Canadian.

Hu’s film, Leave Me Alone, follows the lives of three women between the ages of 17 and 21, who are prostitutes working in the local bars and massage parlors in Guizhou, one of the poorest provinces in southwestern China.

“I called it Leave Me Alone because it is the daily language of the teenage working girls,” explains Hu. “It’s a simple phrase, but it’s what they say. They do things their way, and don’t need anybody. They don’t care what other people say or think. They just want to be left alone.”

In his synopsis, Hu explains how he met the girls in a bar and got to know them over a couple of months. They eventually trusted him enough to confide to him about what they did. Shortly after that, they agreed to let Hu film them. For three months, Hu lived with them and recorded their lives.

“I wanted people to understand the life of the ordinary teen hookers,” he says. “They are not freaks like we think they are. They are ordinary people like us. The difference is that they have sorrowful families, broken family backgrounds. They don’t have good fortunes like the rest of us.”

The characters in the film include two sisters, Ying and Yue, a friend of theirs, Massagal, and Liang, Ying’s boyfriend. Drama plays throughout the movie, as relationships between the characters change, and the girls are faced with the dangers of drugs and being caught by police. The penalties they face are “six months of forced labour, for taking up [a] porno profession.”

“What is surprising about the movie is that Hu does get involved with the characters’ lives, eventually providing bail for the release of one of the girls from the labour camp.

“My opinion is that a hooker is not a hooker by themselves,” says Hu. “They are hookers because society makes them hookers; they still want them there. It really is a long way before these girls become hookers. They are at a risky age, then they get bad friends who show them how to make this money. It’s a step by step process. They don’t just decide to become hookers.”

Hu received a grant from the Chinese Scholarship Council to continue researching in Canada, and is currently teaching a few students at SAIT. So far, his film has received kudos at the Taiwan International Film Festival, and he is trying to get it ready to broadcast on the cBC’s The Passionate Eye.

This isn’t the first time Hu has received recognition for his films. According to his website, he has done seven other major films, and works as a TV documentarist for China Centre TV Station, the Beijing TV Station and Hong Kong Phoenix TV.

Leave Me Alone and several of Tiger Hu’s other movies can be viewed (with English subtitles and narration) online at http://badteen.virtualave.net/video/indexvideo1.html.

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