Xie Jin’s masterpiece was not shown in China until almost two decades after it was made. Banned for its depiction of old China, the film is in many ways the summation of the cinematic style that began in Shanghai in the 1930s: brilliant use of space, powerful camera movement, and a story that follows the conflicting, contradictory fates of its protagonists. Two Stage Sisters is also a perceptive meditation on Chinese opera itself, chronicling changes in style and their relation to shifting notions of the role of art. Synopsis: In 1935, a runaway bride hides out with a traveling Xiaoxing opera troupe; after allowing her to stay, the company trains her and soon she is taking on the dan roles while her “sister” takes on the sheng male roles. Soon the two move on to Shanghai, where they become hailed as the “queens” of the opera world. But as they learn, such success comes with a price, and each sister must decide how to manage her art and her life—as China navigates through WWII, then the Civil War, and finally the victory of the Communist Party.