Chinese-born American director and filmmaker
Nanfu Wang (Chinese: 王男栿) (born 1985) is a Chinese-born American filmmaker. Her debut film Hooligan Sparrow premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2017. Her second film, I Am Another You, premiered at SXSW Film Festival in 2017 and won two special jury awards, and her third film, One Child Nation, won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
- During filming, it never occurred to me that I was going to be a part of either film. I was always trying to cut my voice out by having subjects include my question in their answers.
- The most repressed countries often produce some of the most amazing films. I think that it will push people to find a way to express their ideas in new ways.
- We all like to believe that our world has clear heroes and villains and that the heroes are going to save us after all, but that’s not the reality.
- I’m pretty pessimistic about the Chinese government because I think there is no balance within it or any institution, country or organization that can hold it accountable. So, I don’t know what the future will be.
- I think the first step of any change comes from the people who live in China. And that's why I think the most important impact I hope that documentaries would have is to change people's perception. Because personally, I experienced how I have learned so much, and unlearned so much, about what I was taught growing up about China.
- People in China who praise the government despite that they have family that died from Covid because of the lack of medical response and lack of care from the government, but they still say they are appreciative of the government, I look at those people and they could be my family or my friends. I would never look at them with disgust or contempt or as morally superior. I understand how they became that and how they got their information, how their ideology was formed.
- There is a difference between disinformation and misinformation. Disinformation is somebody giving the wrong information but unknowingly. They did not know it was wrong, so maybe they could say they are working with the information they had at the time but it’s still wrong. Misinformation is intentionally spreading wrong information. At what point the disinformation turned to misinformation is really hard to go back and find. The people who are at the level of government, whose responsibility it is to present transparency and truthful information, those people need to be held accountable for giving inaccurate information.
- Misinformation is just like a virus. There is an origin. It’s hard to find where the origin is, but it starts with a small group of people and it takes human hosts to spread from person to person. All the people who voted for Trump or believed that COVID didn’t exist, you need to go back to see where did it start and how long have we ignored that. I do want people to look at it, and not to place judgement but to look beyond those superficial issues.
- I’m conscious what things were not positive. And I, as a storyteller, as a filmmaker, and as a citizen, I felt that it’s my responsibility to expose that and to reveal that, to raise awareness so people could see. That’s the only way I feel you could really push the country to move forward, to improve, and hold the authorities accountable.
- We all want certain things. We all want transparency. We all want accurate information. And especially with the experience of coming from China, knowing how somebody could firmly believe in something that was not true. I would never look at any of the subjects in China who say they love, they admire, they appreciate Xi Jinping and they appreciate what the Chinese government does with contempt or with disgust. I would never do that. Because I know what they came from, and I know what made this happen.
- I think empathy is not learned. Maybe I’m wrong, but in my experience it’s not.
- Memory is the central part of the individual identity… and I think that’s true with a nation, too. What a nation is how the nation remembers its past, and with the authoritarian government in China, so far recent history has been written in the authorities’ narrative; how they came into power, and what has happened since they came into power, have been revised in a way that fits into the official narrative.
- "Interview: Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang" IN Film Comment (12 August 2019)
- Our goal was to make a film that in 50 or 100 years will survive as a reliable account of what really happened during the one-child policy. It can serve as a rebuttal to the official narrative, which in China already is pure propaganda. Even outside of China, many people we’ve spoken with have told us how surprised they were by the details of the film, which shows how effective the propaganda promoting the policy truly has been.
- The biggest challenge we faced during post-production was how to integrate all the different elements involved in the film. The topic of the one-child policy and its consequences are massive and complex. We went through a lot of trial and error to decide which characters to include and how to transit from my personal and family story to a larger national and international story.