“ON YOUR RADAR” IS A WEEKLY GRAD FILM NEWS SEGMENT THAT FEATURES A STUDENT PICKED AT RANDOM.
MOXIE PENG IS CURRENTLY A 3RD YEAR STUDENT AT GRAD FILM. WE ASKED HIM A FEW QUESTIONS AND HERE’S WHAT HE HAD TO SAY:
1. Where do you consider home and what is it like there?
I consider New York City my second home, but it might be disinterested in adopting me! But seriously, my hometown is this beautiful little town in Hunan, China, where lots of wicked stories and people lived generation after generation. We embrace spicy food, and we invented China's best reality TV, if you’ve ever heard of Super Girls from Hunan TV. My hometown people are brave, daring and innovative—and some of them are a little proud. Weirdly, all the fond memories I have in Hunan are associated with the numerous summers I spent there doing nothing but walking in small roads in the rice field. Sometimes, we did do things because they seemed to be “the right thing” to do for rebellious kids; we smoked cigarettes behind the high school campus; we caught crickets and put them in people's lunchboxes; and we had so many sleepovers (yes, there are sentimental things about one's hometown).
I also loved spending time hanging out with the older folks in town, as they are the best. I remember the trust they placed in me by sharing their family history; sometimes I got bored with the things my straight boyfriends always did, and I would just go sit in the yard with older people while they treated me with tea and dim sum (and respect). There is some sort of forgiveness in talking to a senior person. Something very kind and gentle, where I didn't feel I could do anything wrong, or if I did, I would always be excused. I also remember spending lots of time listening to grandpas and grandmas telling me stories about how they came to realize life's complexity—how time has shaped and changed someone’s life and eventually taught us to appreciate life more. I guess that's the best thing about someone’s home: you can make mistakes, but you are always welcome to come back.
2. What is currently inspiring you as a filmmaker?
I would say that other people's stories are as inspiring to me as my own memories and imagination. Right now, I am mostly writing about the farmers and workers in my home country because I know them, and they really need a voice that is not coming from a patronizing angle. I do like to tell the stories of people living in modern times, too, and I love that in New York, you could always meet someone and find their stories fascinating. I also love talking about gender and sexuality, as they are things that New York can inspire you with, for sure—those, and the art scene. I love meeting and discovering different artists, because they inspire me to write and create more. My poet and photographer friend inspired me to write poems; my DJ and musician friend composed the entire soundtrack for my second-year film; my queer artist friends that perform in bars and galleries made me want to be as inspiring and woke as them! These people showed the richness of art and became my artistic nutrition. Plus, the many museums and indie film theaters in the city are showcasing the best artists in the world, and they provoke so many thoughts in me. It's a nutritional process that will pay off later.
3. What has been your most rewarding experience at NYU Tisch Grad Film so far?
This is such a hard question, but I think finding my own voice has been the most rewarding experience here. This includes (in no particular order): identifying your uniqueness, accepting your weirdness, trusting your instinct, bonding with people who appreciate you, and THEN, questioning everything and being open to suggestions. It's a very hard thing to do on a daily basis, and it will always be hard, but you just have to accept it if you want to tell stories. In the meantime, don’t take anything too personally and enjoy the ride. There will always be ups and downs. Go cuddle your boyfriend or girlfriend or all-other-sorts-of-friends if you feel lonely during the down times.
You can follow Moxie on Instagram here.