"THE WORLD KEEPS CHANGING,SO DOES EVERYONE. NO PERSON IS AN ISLAND, UNTO ITSELF. "
In 2014 I left China to come to the U.S. seeking adventures and new experiences that would help me to develop a new vision as a filmmaker. My fascination with people and my interest in their stories led me on the path of making films, especially documentary. Through many unique experiences, I have witnessed the spectrum of people living in the same world yet with various life paths and have recognized the vast diversity of cultures. The further I travel, the stronger I am aware of my identity within a global community. Thus, I feel an eagerness to shed light on and raise the attention of minorities who struggle to have their voices heard. My films are aimed at them.
Believing that documentary can make changes, I have made films about communities, such as an investigation of the living conditions of Chinese take out restaurants in Philadelphia (Taking out Chinese from Chinese take out (2018)), explorations of street artists who are chasing their dreams (The Weak One (2014)), a portrait of a babysitter who is from a rural area making an effort to change her life (Sister (2012)), and an expose of elder Chinese immigrants facing the dilemma of staying or leaving while their grandchildren are facing the questions of culture heritage and identities as Chinese Americans (Home Away From Home (2016). I work closely with people who are living on the margins of society. They are among the forgotten, but they are an important part of society and embody its social concerns.
Rather than creating art, I seek to discover it in unexpected places. By observing, I chose to minimize the director’s intervention and manipulation. For example, I devote considerable time to build trust with my subjects while striving to keep a respectful distance while filming. I leave space for them to operate their lives without being disturbed by the camera. People who are being filmed are vulnerable in some way since they have relinquished control on how they and their lives will be presented on film. I treasure the relationships developed between me and these individuals. We are equal, and we are colleagues. I believe my documentary subjects are worthy of full respect and my patience. Most of my documentaries employ the style of cinema verite. Different from journalism’s approach to representing reality, my work seeks to transform it in a richer way. I devote my time and energy to go deep into another’s life, to get to know them and at the same time, get to know myself. I grow with my project, thus, there is humanity as well as innocence and emotion in my films. My subjects are both personal and global.
The world keeps changing, so does everyone. No person is an island, unto itself. I feel we need to aware of and care about others in order to reveal a wider view of what meaningful lives can be. In the end, we are all families. Film builds up the access and bridge to different cultures, communities and countries and thus, makes the conversation among people from different background possible. It is the very first steps that lead to harmony global community. In this case, me as a filmmaker, what I’m making is not only an entertaining commodity, but rather, I’m making films to take responsibilities of being a citizen of the world – to build the connections and help make the world community a better and more understanding place.