One Tree Three Lives is an intimate film on the novelist Hualing Nieh Engle, who has been a major influence on generations of writers in the Chinese Diaspora, and beyond.
The film reveals a woman of unusual charisma, integrity and determination, and a person in continual exile. Interviews with 26 writers such as Mo Yin and Pai Hsien-yung present a lively variety of views and anecdotes.
Hualing Nieh Engle calls herself a tree, with roots in China, the trunk in Taiwan, and the many leaves in Iowa, USA. Born and raised in wartime China, she left Wuhan in 1949 for peace in Taipei, and then left for love in 1964 to the United States. She is the author of 24 books of fiction and non-fiction, which have been translated into various languages. Perhaps more importantly, she initiated the prestigious International Writing Program at the University of Iowa with her poet-husband Paul Engle – a world-renowned platform for writers since 1967, for which they were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.