Ann Hui was born in China's northeastern Liaoning province but grew up Hong Kong.
She graduated from the London Film School in 1975 and then returned to Hong Kong to work for television.
She debuted with the thriller The Secret (1979),
a murder mystery based on a true story,
satirical The Spooky Bunch (1980) before directing two
political dramas about the aftermath of the Vietnam War:
The Story of Woo Viet (1981) and especially Boat People (1982).
She wasted her talent in the romantic dramas Love in a Fallen City (1984) and
Starry Is the Night (1988),
and in kung-fu movies set in the Qing Dynasty such as The Romance of Book and Sword (1987), based on a popular legend, Princess Fragrance (1987), based on Louis Cha's novel "The Book and the Sword", and The Swordsman (1990).
Equally disappointing was the gangster movie Zodiac Killers (1991).
Best are her domestic melodramas:
the semi-autobiographic Song of the Exile (1990),
My American Grandson (1990),
the touching Summer Snow (1995) and
The Stunt Woman (1996).
After Boy and His Hero (1993), she directed the
period melodrama Eighteen Springs (1997) ,
and after As Time Goes By (1997) she directed
the political drama Ordinary Heroes (1999).
The new century opened with the horror movie Visible Secret (2001)
the romantic dramas
July Rhapsody (2002), one of her best, and
Jade Goddess of Mercy (2003),
but then she found a stronger voice in the
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006),
The Way We Are (2008),
Night and Fog (2009) and
A Simple Life (2011).
She also directed the lesbian drama All About Love/b> (2010),
The Golden Era (2014), a biopic of female writer Xiao Hong,
and the period drama Our Time Will Come (2017).
Love After Love (2020) is based on Eileen Chang's novella "Aloeswood Incense".