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Cathy Yan

Cathy Yan (simplified Chinese: 阎羽茜; traditional Chinese: 閻羽茜; pinyin: Yán Yǔ-Xi) is a Chinese and American[1] screenwriter, director and producer.

Cathy Yan
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
  • Former reporter


Early lifeEdit

Yan was born in China[2] and raised in Hong Kong and Washington, DC. She graduated with a bachelor's degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2008,[3] an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business in 2014 [4] and an MBA/MFA dual degree in producing from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program in 2016.[5][6]


Yan worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal[2] in New York, Hong Kong and Beijing before turning to film-making.[6]

After making several shorts, Yan wrote and directed Dead Pigs, her debut movie set in Shanghai. She decided to pursue the film after reading a news story about 16,000 dead pigs mysteriously floating down the Huangpu River, which she found a compelling metaphor.[2] Funded by Chinese investors, Yan shot the dark comedy in Shanghai with a bilingual crew, then completed the film in New York; "Sixth Generation" filmmaker Jia Zhangke executive produced.[2] Dead Pigs premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won a Special Jury Award for ensemble acting.[7]

In April 2018, Yan was selected to direct a Harley Quinn DC Extended Universe superhero film based on the comic Birds of Prey, with Christina Hodson writing the script and Margot Robbie attached to star.[2] Yan will be the third woman and the first Asian woman to direct a DC film (or any US superhero film).[8] The film will be released on February 20, 2020.[9]



Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
2010 Phishing No No Yes Short film(s)
2013 Last Night Yes Yes No
2014 Dinosaur Rider No No Yes
Entropy No No Yes
Of Tooth and Time No No Yes
2015 Humpty No No Yes
2016 Down River Yes Yes No
According to My Mother Yes Yes No
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang No No Associate Documentary film
2017 Groomed No No Yes Short film
2018 Dead Pigs Yes Yes No
2020 Birds of Prey Yes No No

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Truffaut-Wong, Olivia (2018). "What This Female Director Did When People Didn't Think She Was In Charge On Her Own Set". Bustle. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Rife, Katie (April 17, 2018). "Meet Cathy Yan, the woman hired to direct DC's next Harley Quinn movie". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  3. ^ Karuppur, Abhiram (2018). "Feb. 13, 2018: Hamm '78 on Activism in Newark; Sigman '89 *98's New Spin on Interpretive Dance; and More". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  4. ^ Teodorczuk, Tom (2018). "Sundance award-winning director Cathy Yan on shunning Hollywood for China with her debut movie 'Dead Pigs'". MarketWatch. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Tisch at Sundance - 2018 Sundance - Premieres". Tisch School of the Arts. 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Cathy Yan". Tisch School of the Arts. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  7. ^ Kiang, Jessica (25 January 2018). "Sundance Film Review: 'Dead Pigs'". Variety. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr (17 April 2018). "Cathy Yan Is Warner Bros' Choice To Direct Margot Robbie In Next Harley Quinn Film". Deadline. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  9. ^ Couch, Aaron (September 24, 2018). "Margot Robbie's 'Birds of Prey' Gets 2020 Release Date confirmed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 24, 2018.