Rising Stars: Meet Director and Editor Zheyu Liang

Born in China and based in LA, Zheyu Liang has worked as a director and editor in the film industry for many years. She is passionate about humanistic storytelling and bringing diverse and underrepresented stories to life. After receiving her MFA degree from the prestigious UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television, Zheyu continues to excel in her filmmaking career. Many films that Zheyu directed and edited had strong film festival runs where they garnered both domestic and international awards.

Born in China and based in LA, Zheyu Liang has worked as a director and editor in the film industry for many years. She is passionate about humanistic storytelling and bringing diverse and underrepresented stories to life. After receiving her MFA degree from the prestigious UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television, Zheyu continues to excel in her filmmaking career. Many films that Zheyu directed and edited had strong film festival runs where they garnered both domestic and international awards.

Zheyu discovered her love for film in her teenage years. At a time, she already started to watch documentaries, independent films, international and art house films when her peers were devouring animated cartoons or popular blockbusters movies on their screens.

It was Werner Herzog’s “Into the Abyss” , that she watched during that time that her curiosity and passion for filmmaking took shape. It blew her mind with both its profound storytelling and Herzog’s unique approach to putting a spotlight on controversial social issues and effectively raising public attention to them. It really got her thinking deeply about how Herzog was able to accomplish that in the cinematic medium. Herzog inspired her to consider if she could be a filmmaker who could wield moving pictures and sounds, and most importantly personal stories, to shed light on the complexities of social issues and promote positive changes.

From then on, she didn’t just watch films to be entertained, she watched them and thought about how they worked. She thought about if she could also make films that communicate her voice and bring underrepresented stories to the foreground of the zeitgeist.

As such, after she received her BA degree from Shanghai University’s School of Communication and Journalism, she attended UCLA’s prestigious School of Film, Theater & Television where she earned a MFA graduate degree and equipped herself with the essential filmmaking and storytelling skills. Over the years, she has worked as a professional film director and editor, creating films that evoke deep-felt emotions and generate social impact. Zheyu’s hard work and dedication let her to receive many awards including Edna and Yu-Shan Endowed Award, Mary Pickford Award, Joseph W. Drown Award for Motion Picture, Lisa Lu Award and Peal Wang Fellowship.

Recently, Zheyu just finished directing a feature documentary called “Asian Inspirations”, which is sponsored by Chevrolet and presented by ODK Media and Shandong Film & TV Media International. The film highlights three influential Asian-Americans – they are Duy-Loan Le, the first woman and Asian elected as a Texas Instruments Senior Fellow, Prof. David Chu, a distinguished Research Professor at University of Georgia and NIH Advisory Committee Member, as well as Charles Huang, the business leader of Pasaca Capital Inc, innovator and philanthropist. Told through personal stories, this, first of its kind, film, not only depicts the footprint and legacy of Asian Americans, showcases how Asian-Americans contribute to the

society, but also inspires younger generations to think about “what is success?” and how to strive to make a difference to the world as well as give back to the community.

During the course of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant, troubling increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and bias. Asian community has been facing a sharp increase in instances of hostility, racism and xenophobia. As such, Zheyu decided to make a film to support Asian community by highlighting the contributions that Asian Americans from all walks of life have been making to the society and letting more people know about the Asian American culture and heritage in order to fight against the anti-Asian hate. She hoped this film would inform, heal and inspire change.

The film followed three Asian Americans and was shot in three different cities – LA, Atlanta and Houston and then was edited and completed in LA. From the pre-production all the way to pos-production, Zheyu worked day and night with her team closely to bring these beautiful and important stories to life. In the work meetings, they brainstormed the story ideas for each subject, talked about story structure, approach and filming plans as well as discussed the best way to engage the audience while creating positive changes. After months of efforts, the film is finally out and aired on OnDemandChina, OnDemandKorea, and OnDemandViet now.

In 2020, Zheyu directed and edited a documentary “The Future of Hollywood”, featuring acclaimed director Ang Lee and actress Lisa Lu. Through the interview and discussion with Ang Lee, this film explores the future of the Hollywood filmmaking industry and how more and more Asian filmmakers can break into the industry and mainstream in the future. The film premiered at the Chinese-American Engineers and Scientists Association of Southern California’s (CESASC) 58th Annual Convention and received a lot of good feedback from the audience.

Many films that Zheyu directed and edited like “Transplant” (director/editor), “The Bond” (editor), “Pineda’s Dream” (director/editor), “Sirens” (editor), “Pendulum” (editor), and many others shed light on the complexities of social issues and promote positive changes. These films were selected and awarded at many films festivals including special Jury Mention Narrative Short at Atlanta Film Festival, Honorable Mention Jury Award at Bentonville Film Festival, HollyShorts Film Festival, Austin Asian American Film Festival, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival ,Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, BronzeLens Film Festival and many others.

Currently Zheyu is working as a director and editor on another feature documentary “One and Only” (working title). The film is an intimate exploration of the unintended consequences of China’s One Child Policy. Grounded in cinema verité, it takes a personal and nuanced look at three one-child families that are each navigating their mother-son relationships and building towards an uncertain tomorrow for everyone involved. The film is in an intense post-production stage now and is about to come out soon.

In the next few years, Zheyu Liang will continue to work as a professional director and editor and open her own production company to make films that not just entertain and engage audiences but also empower diversity and promote positive changes in society.

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