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The Shaw Brothers' Sisters: Filmmakers at a Fallen Studio

Love in a Fallen City. Photo courtesy of Celestial Pictures.Almost as long as there’s been a Chinese cinema, there have been Shaw Brothers. The three oldest brothers, Runje, Runde, and Runme, founded the Tianyi Film Company in Shanghai in 1925. Shortly thereafter, Runme and the youngest brother, Run Run, opened a branch of the company in Singapore, eventually expanding to Hong Kong. The Shaw empire crashed with the Japanese invasions, first in Shanghai in 1937 and then Singapore and Hong Kong in 1941. But after the war, thanks to the “more than $4 million in gold, jewelry and currency (they buried) in their backyard”1 they were able to re-open, first in Singapore and then, in the late 1950s, in Hong Kong. Shaw Brothers, with its massive Movietown production lot, became the dominant movie production house in the colony, vanquishing its rival MP & GI (later named Cathay) by the end of the 60s.

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