Reinventing Chinese Commercial Cinema: In Conversation with Dayyan Eng 伍仕贤

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Thursday, October 6, 2022
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Rolfe Hall 1200

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Dayyan Eng (伍仕贤) broke new ground in 2005 when his debut film, the romantic comedy Waiting Alone, broke new ground in Chinese film history. Since then he has gone on to make the film Inseparable, which starred Kevin Spacey and Daniel Wu, and the popular fantasy-comedy Wished. In this event, Eng will discuss his body of work, including the acclaimed films Waiting Alone and Wished, his experience in the Chinese film industry, and share his reflections on more than two decades as a filmmaker.

This will be an in-person event that is part of the course UCLA Popular Culture in Modern Chinese Societies.

You can stream Dayyan Eng’s films before the event at: Waiting Alone, Wished and Bus 44

DAYYAN ENG is an American filmmaker of Chinese, English, and Persian ancestry, who grew up in three continents. He studied film at the University of Washington and transferred to the prestigious Beijing Film Academy where he completed undergraduate studies in directing.

Starting his career directing TV commercials for the Asian and global markets, Eng first won awards and recognition at Venice, Sundance and Cannes film festivals for his film Bus 44, and for his acclaimed romantic-comedy Waiting Alone. Eng is the first American to direct a Chinese feature film; the first foreign director invited into the China Film Director’s Guild; and made history as the first and only foreign director to have a film nominated for Best Picture at the Chinese academy awards. Waiting Alone remains the highest-rated Chinese romantic-comedy to-date in China. Eng’s films have also garnered accolades and awards for actors he’s worked with, which have included top stars in Asia and Hollywood.

Known as Wu Shixian to audiences in China, Eng is frequently listed as a favorite amongst the “post-80s” generation in audience polls and critics lists. In 2012, Eng followed up with the genre-bending dramedy/psychological suspense Inseparable, which he wrote, produced and directed. The film stars Daniel Wu and Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey – who became the first Hollywood actor to star in a fully Chinese-financed film. Inseparable premiered at the Busan International Film Festival and went on to be named one of The Wall Street Journal’s “Top 10 Most Notable Asian Films of the Year.”

In 2017, Eng directed the indie fantasy-comedy Wished (co-written with Justin Malen), which beat local box office estimates at the time to gross RMB$70 million in two weeks. It held the highest audience scores for local comedies released that crowded summer, and gained a total of 100,000,000 paid views across China’s top three online movie platforms in just over a fortnight. Wished starred Xia Yu, Yan Ni, and K-pop star Victoria Song, with cameos by nearly a dozen of China’s biggest names including Daniel Wu, Wang Baoqiang, and Ning Jing. The film was an Official Selection at the 37th Hawaii International Film Festival and was optioned by a US production company to be remade into a Hollywood film.

Eng divides his time between Beijing and Los Angeles. He’s trilingual, and reads and writes English, Chinese, and Farsi.

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies