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July 01, 2021

NYFA’s recent graduate from the MFA Filmmaking program, Ruiyan Li, was shortlisted for the BAFTA Student Film Awards this year. Her film Yuan was selected among 680 submissions by students across film schools in 34 countries. Competitive categories include the ‘BAFTA Student Film Award for Animation,’ ‘BAFTA Student Film Award for Documentary,’ and ‘BAFTA Student Film Award for Live Action Film.’

Yuan was selected under the BAFTA Student Film Award shortlist this year, competing with 19 other shortlisted films. The nominees were announced on June 9, 2021.

Production still from Yuan (2021)

Those shortlisted were also eligible for a BAFTA and Global Student Accommodation (GSA), which awards a $12,000 USD grant to projects on the subject of wellbeing. Despite the difficulties in-person events present due to COVID, BAFTA invited the shortlisted students to online events in an effort to keep communication and networking opportunities open.

The film Yuan tells the story of Nan, a woman who returns to her hometown to attend her mother’s funeral. Before leaving, Nan gives birth to her daughter Yuan, whose innocence and youth gradually change her mother from hard to soft. The film follows a story of self-growth and redemption after a harsh confrontation with the world outside Nan's home life.

Production still from Yuan (2021)

According to Li, “It is a story about responsibility. It is part of growing up. Sometimes we fear to take responsibility for our actions and hope we never encounter situations that make us face our own realities. But this is not life.” Li continues to describe the basis for the subject of motherhood in the film.

“In many societies, it’s perceived that a woman becomes a mother when she gives birth to a baby. Children are the responsibility of mothers and can never be forgotten. In this story, Nan accepts the truth that she is a mother and that she must take on this responsibility,” says Li, ”She may experience pain and confusion given the uncertainty of her future, but as is life, she learns to enjoy the small moments of joy and happiness with her daughter.”

Production still from Yuan (2021)

A recent student herself, Li offers honest advice to those studying the art of film. “To be honest, I’m still looking for the meaning of this film myself. I created Yuan based on my own feelings and sense of life. I believe it’s important to base your films on your feelings and insights, which may not be a quality necessary for a commercial-grade filmmaker, but it’s an important quality nonetheless.”

Li urges, “Never stop doing what you want to do if you strive to be a filmmaker. Still inspired by the words of my instructor, Graham Tallman, spoken at my own graduation ceremony, ‘Now, more than any other time the world needs answers. The world is changing so quickly, and people need the means to understand how to live in this modern world. Stories help people do that, and you are the storytellers of this generation.’”

New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA graduate Ruiyan Li on making the BAFTA student films awards shortlist.

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