2022 DocPitch Winner
Filmmaker • TRACING HISTORY
MVFF46 Official Selection
Photo © Tommy Lau Photography
I was born and raised in Berkeley. I think I had this perception sometimes that the Bay doesn’t have as much space or that it’s harder to find community, both horizontally among peers, but also with mentors and those kinds of people. But then I’ll go to a film event, or during the festival, and there are so many more people to meet, whether they’re long-time Bay Area people, or they’re new to the Bay.
One of the great things about the Bay Area is the history of activism here, particularly for documentary filmmakers. It’s beautiful how art has helped the movements started here become national, global, passed into law. There’s a solidarity here, where people can come together and make things happen.
I submitted my first feature, Standing Above the Clouds, to DocPitch in 2022. We had such a great experience with our cohort, working to put our pitch together, sending it out for votes…when they were announcing the Industry Award winner, they were saying things like “the artistic vision is so clear,” and I just thought, they can’t be talking about my film.
But as they kept speaking, I realized, maybe they were talking about my film. When they said Standing Above the Clouds, we were so happy. I don’t always have the language to express my exact visual intentions in a way that feels authentic, so hearing what they said at DocPitch made me feel like I was finally in a good place.
The whole process of making Standing Above the Clouds had just been, putting the intention forward, working as hard as we possibly can, and hoping things would come through. And that funding came in at exactly the moment we needed it to. We’re actually wrapping on the film and preparing for the final edit, and we’ve started submitting to festivals for an early 2024 premiere.
This year, we submitted a short, personal documentary that I directed, called Tracing History. It follows my mom and I, as we go to visit the sites where our Chinese ancestors may have labored to build the transcontinental railroad. My film was part of such a strong shorts block, and I really felt there was so much care shown for the filmmakers.
It’s so nice to experience again in person how these things that we make in our office, in our bedrooms, in the dark, do have much life in the light. Mill Valley Film Festival allows us to experience that without having to get on a plane or go somewhere really far away. MVFF was such a beautiful reminder that this is a great place for making art and that the community needed to create exists here!