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International Filmmaker Yingli Cheng

One of the things America can be most proud of is the wide influence our film industry has had on the entire planet. Though Hollywood is still THE global film capitol; the UK, Bollywood, and China have developed huge film industries and communities that are rivalling that of the US. This is not a threatening fact but rather one which serves entertainment in general. Director and writer Yingli Chen is from Leshan (China); a city known for Pandas and a 200 foot Buddha statue. and now this acclaimed filmmaker. While in Shanghai she was a part of the original television production of the Masked Singer, currently airing on FOX in the US. In the past couple of years, she has received attention for her film work such as Can’t Without You and Lily. The combination of talent, a global resume, and a modern feminine perspective as a director has repeatedly placed Cheng in the spotlight. Her strong yet compassionate voice as a storyteller has been an essential element of indie films and feature films starring Oscar winners. Yingli is proof that great films produce high yielding creative returns.



Can’t Without You (2017) is an ode to fathers and their daughters everywhere. Depicting one family’s experience as their patriarch is ravaged by Alzheimer’s, this film resonated with audiences and critics with nominations in Shanghai and America (receiving the Silver Remi award at Worldfest Houston). The interaction of the characters is often subdued but intensely personal. Director Cheng reveals, “I have a very strong relationship with my family, specifically my father. He is my life mentor. I wanted to create a story that showed my own father and fathers everywhere how special they are to their daughters.”


Lily (2019) tells a much more strained story taking place between a traditional Chinese mother (Ping), her daughter (Lily) who has moved to the US to study, and the daughter’s fiancé. Equal parts comedy and drama, Lily is a story about cultural differences and how we can grow apart from those closest to us. The silver lining is that we can find a way to mend this divide. Yingli served as both writer and director of the film. Her dual purpose was to present the expanding multiculturalism of the world as well as the modern day Chinese-American woman. As a professional who has worked extensively in both cultures, Yingli is well suited to build this bridge between the people AND the film communities. Vetting Cheng’s recognition as a prominent female voice in film, Lily was recently screened at the Through Women's Eyes Film Festival. This international film festival recognizes films by women filmmakers with a focus on international women's issues, stories, and lives.


Her constant and diverse schedule sees Yingli currently working on the upcoming animated film Marmaduke starring Oscar winning actor JK Simmons (Best Supporting Actor for 2014’s Whiplash) and Pete Davidson (NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Golden Globe-nominated Train Wreck). Set for a possible 2020 release date, Marmaduke is another example of the collaboration of creative and talented professionals from an international pool. In Yingli’s opinion, there is no national DNA to film, there’s simply the chance to tell a riveting story. She relates, “I love to travel because I can collect stories from different people, different cultures, different emotions. You have to experience life to talk about it honestly. In the end, I use my perspective to tell an international story that all the people can connect with. There is no ‘good’ film or ‘bad’ film, only the ones in which the director has communicated their ideas and imparted some wisdom…and then the films which don’t.”

Written by Kelly King
International Filmmaker Yingli Cheng Reviewed by JaamZIN on 10:41:00 AM Rating: 5
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