Writer / Director
Eris Qian is a writer/director/producer based in New York City and considers herself a global nomad. Born and raised in China, she leverages her diasporic experience to tell stories about women who defy the norms in finding their place in the world.
Eris's debut short film MOTHER TONGUE premiered at CAAMFest, the biggest Asian American film festival in the world, and screened at 15 prestigious festivals globally. Her first feature PULLING SEEDLINGS was selected for 2021 Sundance x Women In Film Financing Strategy Intensive, the Mubi-sponsored Wscripted Cannes Screenplay List, and the inaugural NYU Production Lab Development Studio. Her short LAST SHIP EAST won Best Screenplay at LA Shorts and was placed as a finalist at Raindance and Claims Conferences' Emerging Filmmaker Contest. Eris is also a member of the Stars Collective by Starlight Media.
As a natural multi-hyphenate, Eris holds MBA/MFA dual degrees from NYU's Stern and Tisch.
When the Japanese military broke into Nanjing and massacred 300,000 innocent civilians, my grandmother was a six-year-old girl. She and her father fled the city, traveled across half of China to Hong Kong en route of Wuhan, and boarded a steamship that eventually docked in the only sanctuary during the Japanese invasion - Shanghai.
In hindsight, it seems to be a bizarre and risky detour as the direct distance from Nanjing to Shanghai is only four hours by car. But in fact, they, like so many refugees, simply had no idea of where to go. Nowhere accepted them. Nowhere was safe.
Seventy years later, when I stood in front of a trench comprised of victims’ shoes in the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, I was suddenly returned to the imagery from the Rape of Nanjing and couldn’t stop weeping.
The collective trauma of war struck me - this is not only the experience of one people, but a universal human theme of grief, survival, and hope. LAST SHIP EAST came to me as a unique aspect of the Holocaust experience in which I see significant connections between the Jewish migrants’ experience and my grandmother’s.
Looking back at the atrocities of the Holocaust and the Rape of Nanjing, it is not only important to commemorate them as part of how we learn from history and honor the victims, but also to study them to find connections between communities. Through children’s eyes, I want to diminish the binary like in THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS, and contrast their ignorance with the cruel undercurrents, similar to THE FLORIDA PROJECT.
The clock is ticking as the WWII survivors are passing. With the war waging in Ukraine, and Japan aiming to retract their peace commitment from their constitution, we now live in a world with much more violence, division, and discrimination. I hope that LAST SHIP EAST can help meditate on the intersection of Asian and Jewish cultures, and build solidarity across communities.