Shuyao Chen is a well-established female filmmaker, writer, and director who’s taking cross-cultural queer cinema by storm. This hardworking, passionate individual has a lot of stories to bring to the table, and we’re here to watch her as she creates them one by one. From humble beginnings in Wenzhou, China, Chen has risen to make waves across the global film sea.
Chen has created exceptional, award-winning films that effectively bridge Eastern and Western sensibilities. Not only is she introducing the world to poignant LGBTQ+ stories from China, but she’s also redefining the role of a filmmaker as a bridge between diverse cultures.
Chen’s first short film, Winter by the River, was selected by a number of notable film festivals, including the New York Asian Film Festival—a premier platform for showcasing Asian cinema in North America. The festival celebrates the rich diversity of Asian filmmaking, bringing together a wide range of genres, styles, and cultural perspectives—and Berlin Film Week at Short Shorts 2022—a prominent event within the international short film community that gathers filmmakers, industry professionals, and film enthusiasts to celebrate the art of short filmmaking—where it won Best Short Film at Berlin Film Week. Chen’s second short film did just as well.
Manting was recently released and almost immediately selected by the Hamburg International Queer Film Festival—the oldest and largest queer festival in Germany. The script was also selected as one of three finalists for the Cary Fukunaga Production Award in 2021 before the release of the film itself. ShortsFit specializes in promoting and distributing short films globally and submitting films to prestigious festivals, providing a platform for filmmakers to reach a diverse audience and showcase their unique cinematic creations.
Along her journey, Chen has learned some valuable lessons. To help her thrive as a filmmaker, she realized that ego and pride have no place in her life—there’s only room for purpose. Chen learned to work solely with her motivation to share stories and have them heard, seen, and understood rather than being driven by vanity. This is what sets her apart from other writers and directors in a notoriously egotistical industry.
According to Chen, vanity is “a pitfall ingrained in the fabric of this industry,” so she works hard to ensure the subjects of her work take precedence over everything else. This honorable approach has earned her respect and created a loyal following. The queer and cross-cultural stories Chen tells affect society one set of eyes and ears at a time.
Chen aims to preserve curiosity and hunger through her inspirational work. Avoiding distractions that can sidetrack these essential qualities, she has the ability to genuinely immerse her audience into her characters’ worlds and perspectives. She’s committed to understanding and embracing the nuances of her characters, making a mindful effort to champion the stories she tells authentically and passionately.
You can keep up with Shuyao Chen on her Instagram page to see what she is working on. After seeing her previous work, we’re ready to see more. With directors like her in the industry, we can all access meaningful films that touch our hearts and enhance our perspectives instead of being bombarded by pieces produced by ego. With tact, integrity, and purposefulness, Chen is helping reform the film industry one masterpiece at a time, and we’re proud to be part of her viewership. Become part of her loyal following by checking out her work and following her today.