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During the large-scale demolition and construction going on in a small town in China, an independent and empty-nest grandma YING(70s) who is in the early stage of Alzheimer’s confronts the pressure of moving into a local public nursing home persuaded by her daughter XIAO YU(30s) who works as a construction worker in a big city.



A Matter of Time is a 15-minute short film written, directed, and edited by Yang Liu as the thesis of the MFA program at Emerson College. 

The film applies a realistic style with stationary camera movements and an objective audio environment to portray citizens at the bottom of society in China. The project focuses on observing and reflecting ordinary people’s struggles and conflicts in daily life. In addition, A Matter of Time intends to connect the rapid developments of cities in China and the changes of Ying’s inner state to establish a sense of helplessness and loneliness.


Ying(70s) is the owner of a small tailor shop in a small town in China. The town is undergoing a large-scale demolition and construction to be developed as a new modern city. She lives alone in an old apartment thinking about her daughter, Xiao Yu, who is living in a big city as a construction worker. Ying enjoys working every day and chatting with her old friend Wang(60s), an owner of a small fruit store in town.

Ying is in the early stage of Alzheimer’s, so her memory gets worse day by day, and it makes Xiao Yu worries about her health conditions. Xiao Yu and her son Wei Wei(7) come back to visit Ying this time persuading her to move to a local public nursing home. However, Ying believes that Xiao Yu has other reasons to make her leave the apartment, which makes their conflict and tension reach a boiling point.



As an artist, I have a strong responsibility to reveal the unexposed side of China’s society. This project discusses the conflict and friction between the two generations caused by different values and beliefs. I would like to focus on the lives of lower-class people since they are about 60% of the population in China. 

​​However, the public doesn’t really know the details of their real situation because the lower-class don’t have much power or channels to express their real conditions. All they can do is to work and earn a living, paycheck to paycheck, repeatedly to survive in this competitive country. 


The reason why I chose the theme of the nursing room is because of the rapid development of China and its aging population. To control the situation, China canceled the only-child policy and applied the two-child policy in 2011. More and more families have been faced or are going through the situation of caring for elders, including myself. I was born in 1995 under the only-child policy. Most of the people in my generation are on the same boat as me. When we grow older and have our own families, we will need to take the responsibility for four elders and kids, while working in the competitive industries in cities. We can not deny that our generations have heavy external and internal pressures from our family and work. Facing the pressure inspires me to discuss this topic for my thesis film. 

Furthermore, During the period of China's rapid urbanization, young people from the middle and west part of China moved to coastal cities to seek better job opportunities. In China, we have the specific term for those migrant workers — “off-farm workers”. In the script, Xiao Yu, Ying’s daughter, is one of the off-farm workers. They bring their dreams and swarm into already overburdened big cities. However, most of them don’t have higher educations and connections, so they have no choice but to take the jobs that require manual labor with low salaries. In addition, daunting housing prices in big cities prevent young workers from dreaming about their own dwelling places. For example, in my hometown, Shenzhen, which is also Xiao Yu’s work location in the script, the housing price is in the top five of the world’s most expensive cities to buy a home. For lower-class workers, they would never be able to afford an apartment in the big city, even if they worked hard for their whole life. 

A house represents an emotional attachment for Chinese from the historical background. A house does not only just provide a living space for individuals, but also offers a sense of belonging to them. However, migrant workers cannot afford any house in the cities. They might never own an apartment for their whole life. They are marginalized people in cities. They wish they could belong to the city one day, but they would never be part of the city. In the meanwhile, house demolition is an issue everywhere; people lose their own houses because of government policies and strategies. Some residents have been given huge amounts for compensation; some residents have lost their lives while protecting their homes. Demolition sites play an important role in my film. It not only reveals the realistic situation for most of the places in China but is also a symbol to hint at the main character Ying’s fear of disappearing and dying. 

A large number of seniors are found in rural areas because of family planning and urbanization in China. The main character Ying is one of the "remained elders" in the rural area. Especially in remote and poverty-stricken villages, many seniors basically live alone once their children leave their hometown. The problem of loneliness and boredom is very common. Their children may just come home to visit once a year. The lack of emotional support for elders is a serious topic that I need to address. 

Creating a sense of reality for my film was very important to me. In order to achieve that, I used stationary shots, long takes, and deep depth of fields as the cinematographic style for most of the footage. I also wanted to restore the realistic background sound from the nature of life. John Fiske firmly believes that realism is “realistic not because it reproduces reality, which it clearly does not, but because it reproduces the dominant sense of reality” (20). In other words, he mentions that realism presents itself as “an unmediated picture of external reality” (20). 

I do believe that realism has the power to extract and concentrate on important points from personal experience to create artwork with aesthetics. A realistic film is not like most commercial Hollywood movies with lots of artificiality, artistic conventions, implausible, exotic, and supernatural elements. Realism attempts to represent matter truthfully. It usually depicts ordinary people, especially the lower and middle class’s living situations. It also describes the changes in their delicate and subtle inner emotions by using an objective way of displaying them. As a result, when spectators observe realism, they find a similar experience as the plot in order to get emotional resonance. 



Director/ Writer/ Editor

Yang Liu (Lizzy) is a director, producer, and writer based in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Emerson College majoring in Film and Media Art with an MFA degree. Previously, she received her BFA degree at Beijing Film Academy. Through the global film production studies from China to the US, she has built solid theoretical and practical experiences with a deep insight into the international film market. Working as the Creative Executive at Starlight Media, she leads Indie Film, Documentary, and Animation departments. She is also in charge of the “Stars Collective” program for supporting BIPOC and female filmmakers. She has written and directed several award-winning films in the past, including A Matter of Time, World Without End, and Tessellation. Her work has nominated and won many international film festivals, such as WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, New York City Independent Film Festival, and Indie Short Fest. Currently, she is working closely with Academy Award winner Donna Gigliotti and Academy Award nominee Diane Quon in the post-production and distribution process of a documentary Wuhan Wuhan.




Yudong Guan is a photographer, producer, and financier based in Beijing and Shenzhen, China. He received a BFA degree in Beijing Film Academy majoring in Commercial Photography in 2017. He participated in many commercial projects as a photographer, such as LEXUS advertisement, Short Film A Person Like My Father, and Tencent public-interest ad. Besides, He produced a series of documentaries and promotional videos for promoting the culture of Mosuo in 2018. He always dedicates to participate in events of public welfare establishments.


Line Producer

Shufan Lv, a producer, received a BFA degree in Beijing Film Academy majoring in Film Producing in 2017. Then, she continues to pursue her study in film study MFA Program of Peking University in 2020. She was a producer for the boot camp of FIRST Youth Film Festival and a line producer working in Mountain Top, a famous Chinese agent company. She produced many commercial movies and indie films, which got great box office and awards. Especially, she produced a short film A Person Like My Father was selected in the Cannes International Film Festival, and a feature-length film Master of the World got 110 million CNY(1.6 million USD) box office in China Market.

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Director of Photography

Qingzi Wang graduated from Beijing Film Academy majoring in Film Cinematography in 2017. She has many practical production experiences as a director of photography in various countries and areas, especially she is able to adapt difficult shooting environment and high altitude areas well including the Tibet plateau.
As a DP, she participated in different kinds of projects, including feature-length commercial movies, indie films, TV series, documentaries for National Geography, advertisement, and short films. Especially, the short film In The Middle of Blue was nominated for Best Short Film Competition in Busan Film Festival in 2018.


Production Designer

Le Yu is a production designer based in Beijing. She graduated from the Fine Art Department of Beijing Film Academy in 2017. Yu Le is specialized in multimedia shootings and experimental video-art. She is a member of the China Film Art Direction Academy. Yu Le also cooperated with several fashion magazines as a chief artistic officer, including Bazaar and Vogue.

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1st Assistant Director

Yichi Chen is a versatile filmmaker from Taipei, Taiwan, who started her creative career after working at the TV station as a sound engineer. Inspired by many independent films, Yichi finally decided to approach filmmaking and got her Master of Fine Arts degree at Emerson College in 2019. 
After experiencing the cultural differences between the U.S and Taiwan. Yichi launched her thesis project in 2019, We Need to Talk About The Ring, which examines the social transition under the new same-sex marriage laws in Taiwan and is well received by many international film festivals, including 2019 Provincetown Film Festival (Anthony Lawson Award), Wick Queer 2020 (Best in Show Short Film), Carmarthen Bay Film Festival 2020 (officially selected) and Seattle Queer Film Festival (officially selected), Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival (officially selected).


Script Supervisor

Biwei Cong is a director and a teacher. She received her Bachelor of Arts with a major in Recording Arts (Sound Production), and a minor in TV Editing and Directing from Communication University of China. She received her MFA degree from Emerson College, with a major in Film & Media Art. Her thesis film Happy to be With You won the special prize in the 6th Chinese Korean Share Your Dream Short Film Festival, and the 2nd prize in the 8th International University Students Short Film Festival. Her work was also officially selected in the 45th Boston Sci-fi Film Festival, the 16th Chinese American Film Festival, 2019 Canada Shorts, the 10th CSFF Film Festival- Student unit, and the 17th Vision Youth Awards.

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Sound Designer

Zhenyu Zhang received his BFA in Beijing Film Academy majoring in Sound Design. He is a professional film sound designer based in Beijing. He has participated in many film projects in the past and won several awards as a sound designer, such as At Last directed by Yiwei Liu, Mordaga directed by Jinlin Cao, For One mOre day directed by Xiaogang Gu, and Vortex directed by Jianyu Gan. In addition, He was a sound director of The Moon and Beyond for Discovery Channel directed by Xianni He.


Sound Engineer 

Yunhao Zhu is a sound engineer, sound designer, and production sound mixer based in Beijing, China. He received a BFA degree in Beijing Film Academy of Sound Design in 2013, then he continued perused and got his MFA degree majoring in Film Sound Production in Beijing film Academy in 2016. He produced many famous film projects and won several international film awards, including short films, feature-length films, TV series and shows, advertisements, and Online drama Series.

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Music Composer

Benny Char is a South Korean-American contemporary producer, composer, and lyricist. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2019. His artistry consists of experiments by blending different musical genres in order to create new fusion genres. Due to his influence of his musical background and his musical education, he has become a self-proclaimed jazz/RNB/hip-hop producer who seeks to create music that serves for the audience and inspiration.  Benny Char continues to develop its artistry by carefully observing current contemporary music and providing new twists of mainstream genres by fusing other contemporary genres. He also observes modern soundtracks from movies and accomplishes in creating  unique style of movie soundtracks by using memorable motifs in order to create a memorable scene.



Haobo Wang studies at Chapman University majoring in Film Cinematography. He is a freelance colorist living and working in Los Angeles, CA specializing in grades for features, commercials, and music videos.
Featured work:
· "A Young Tough" - 86358 Short Film Festival (Winner)
· "Yun" - 2020 Cannes International Film Festival-Directors’ Fortnight (Nominee)
· "Caramel" - First Look Film Festival (Winner)
· "Southern Burbank" - ARFF International Festival Official Selection

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Committee Chair

Ms. Roberts-Breslin is an independent media artist whose work has been broadcast on PBS and has received national and international festival awards. She was the Founding Director of the MFA in Media Art program and served as a Visiting Scholar at Communications University of China in Beijing from 2014-2016. She is the author of Making Media: Foundations of Sound and Image Production, the fourth edition of which was published in 2018 by Focal Press/Routledge. She served as video director for the United Church of Christ in New York City and has taught at Temple and Seton Hall universities.


Committee Member

Marc Fields is a writer/producer/director of arts and cultural documentaries and the winner of five regional Emmys for his work on PBS. In November 2011, his 90-minute music history Give Me the Banjo (narrated by Steve Martin) had its national PBS premiere. Previously, he wrote the scripts for two episodes of the landmark six-part PBS series, Broadway: The American Musical.
His production credits include four years as a Series Producer for State of the Arts, a weekly arts magazine on New Jersey Public Television. He is the co-author of the award-winning biography/theater history From the Bowery to Broadway: Lew Fields and the Roots of American Popular Theater, (Oxford University Press, 1993), and is a frequent consultant for programs about American popular entertainment. He previously taught screenwriting and production at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, the New School and at Concord Academy.

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Yang Cao is 70 years old, but she is still very energetic and always curious about every new thing going on around her. She was a theater actor when she was young, and then she became an assistant director and producer for TV series back in the 1980s in China.
She came back to the big screen in the 2000s and played numerous roles in films and TV shows. Yang Cao is always on set and barely have time to go back home. She wants to dedicate her whole life to acting because that's what she likes. Without any doubt, she is a great actress and artist, and an amazing human being!

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Xiao Yu

Chengcheng Fang is a famous actress in China. She was born in 1989 in Dalian, China. She was a nurse working in ICU before she became an actress, but she always had an actress dream when she was young, so she decided to study acting in Central Drama Academy in Beijing. 
She played the role "Hong A-Gu" in The Grand Masters directed by Karwai Wang in 2013, and then she officially started her professional actress career in China's film industry. In 2017, she got the best young actress award in Canada golden Maple Film Festival.


Wei Wei

Gongyu Yang was born in Beijing China in 2009, but he already had a lot of experience as an actor and model. Gongyu is a talented and versatile kid, he is good at calligraphy, martial art, and playing the piano. There is a lot of expectation and hope for the future.

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