Zhengfan Yang (Filmmaker, MAVCS 2017)

Visual and Critical Studies


Describe your path since graduating from SAIC, and what you're doing today.

Before I came to SAIC, I had been making films for several years, after graduated, I went back to make works as a filmmaker. I have been developing, writing, and financing a fiction feature, The Stranger, and presented the project at several international markets. In 2018, I, as the director, premiered a fiction short, Down There, at Venice Film Festival, which is part of the Venezia Biennale, and later screened at New York Film Festival, Busan Film Festival, among others. I will also premiere, as the producer, a documentary feature, Present. Perfect., in the Tiger Competition of International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2019.

Describe how VCS has impacted where you are today.

For someone like me who direct and produce films, an experience in Visual and Critical Studies sounds like a detour. Yet a detour is exactly what I needed since I was already in the track of making films. What VCS brought to me is more than a detour, and what it added to my journey is surprising. During my two years' experience, I encountered with knowledge from different fields as well as people from different backgrounds. It might sound strange but all these encounters indeed provided me with various perspectives to approach, contextualize, and 
reflect on my own works.

What is the most memorable experience you have from your time in VCS? 

There are many moments that are memorable for me. One of them is my thesis project, Liquid Image, which is an experimental short film but also exhibited as a video installation, accompanied by a document written in the way of an academic paper. With the help of my three great readers: Joseph Grigely, Patrick Durgin, and Bruce Jenkins, I was able to produce some thoughts and writings on my own film, after the film was being made. It is very rare for a filmmaker, because most of the time, when a film is done, the filmmaker's job is done. But in the case of Liquid Image, when the film is done, my job was just about to start.

Describe what VCS students might expect from the program.

Learn and make use of everything no matter you like it or not because you are always too young to determine whether you like something or not, and then, everything would come together to you as an inspiration, eventually.

What do you wish you had known when you were still in VCS?

I wish I had known nothing, and let this unknown help and guide me to know something. It is a kind of innocence that exposed me to everything. It is also a kind of expectation that brought me the unexpected.

Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.