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Rising Stars: Meet Dora Siyi Wu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dora Siyi Wu.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
When I just a kid, a seed of being a storyteller was planted and cultivated deep down my heart. I still remember that the most exciting thing in my childhood was watching the biographical documentaries with my parents. Although I did not understand how the vivid pictures that were produced, I knew clearly that I wanted to capture the delicate feelings among people into a film to share it with others. When I grow up, I find being a documentarian is what I want from my childhood dreams. I realized that to pursue this dream, I need to take on the initiative and actively improve both my skills and myself as a person. In 2012, I made my first documentary in Cambodia. When I arrived in Siem Reap, I was shocked to find that most children there were born to sell souvenirs rather than to be educated. It formed a vicious cycle that the less education the children have, the poorer they become. I felt it was urgent to help them. Hence, I made a documentary “Khmer Khmer” about their education system. Afterwards, we gave publicity to the documentary back in China and donated the funds raised to the kids in Cambodia. I was even happier that through my documentary a public service organization in China began to pay attention to the kids in Cambodia and invited tenders to build schools for them. This experience triggered my interest in filmmaking and strengthened my determination to make a difference in this field. My undergraduate academic studies equipped me with practical skills to use a variety of filming equipment and firm-related software. Since filming requires a wide range of knowledge, I studied related Art, Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology. In 2013, I have become the top student in the School of Art. Due to my achievements, I was picked out to be an exchange student at Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona in Spain for one year. During my time in Europe, I have traveled 22 countries and record many materials, developed more understanding of culture outside of China. I soon felt diverse culture’s charm and realized that it is only for one to understand all cultures to be able to tell the stories that everyone can truly understand. Thus, I decided to come to US, to explore the culture which is highly diversified and expand a filmmaker’s necessary horizon, which need getting more understand about different civilization.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s never easy to be a documentarian. Sometimes the documentary shooting will get us into trouble. In 2015, I was invited by my friend Lulu Zheng to record her publicize her New Media artwork in Arc Space which is located inside Renmin University of China secretly. Here I made acquaintance with Jerome; the owner of Arc Space and began to follow the story of this secret space. However, within just one week, Arc Space was ordered to stop the exhibition by our university. I began to seek the answers to the questions that occurred in my mind: How long can this Arc Space exist in RUC, a university in China that is known for being on the conservative side? Why does a university think that the art in Arc Space did not born where it should be? What makes our school so worried about the Arc Space? To have satisfying answers, I began to collect a series of materials and interview the students as well as socialites who visited the Arc Space. As I was filming in Arc space, I got acquainted with a large number of artists and met with different visitors and volunteers with creative ideas, touching different fields that I have never been exposed to. Once I finished my documentary, the film was put on a show in Arc Space. An increasing number of people begin to pay attention to this place. Instead of warning to be shut down, our school had a meeting with me and Lulu, they said if we keep helping the Art Space, the school cannot give us the opportunity to continue to study for a master’s degree at our university. Lulu got scared since she already gets the postgraduate recommendation, and eventually Art space shut it down after five months existed.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am an experienced creative producer and editor in commercial, TV & documentary with production experience under high-pressure environments (Worked internationally – in Europe, Cambodia, Panama and now the US). Currently, oversee daily operations and content production at China TV Corporation. Also co-edited Wuhan! Wuhan! (anticipated release in 2021), a feature documentary following the daily life of citizens of Wuhan during COVID-19 lockdown. I use both sides of my brain to stay on top of editorial and maintain creativity while problem-solving complex logistical and budgetary challenges. Whether it be a biotech company in Silicon Valley, the wine country in California, the acupuncturist in American hospitals, or gangsters in Panama, I am committed to telling unique, heartfelt stories that inform, inspire and propel social change and culture awakening.

What’s next?
Right now, I’m still the team leader of CTC Production, I want to make independent feature documentaries as a freelancer in the near future.

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