“ON YOUR RADAR” IS A WEEKLY GRAD FILM NEWS SEGMENT THAT FEATURES A STUDENT PICKED AT RANDOM.
ERIS QIAN IS CURRENTLY A 3RD YEAR STUDENT AT GRAD FILM. WE ASKED HER A FEW QUESTIONS, AND HERE’S WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY:
1. Where do you consider home and what is it like there?
When I was little, I dreamed of getting away from home and travelling all the time. And later in my life, I moved around too much to claim any place as home. I lived in 3 countries and traveled around 5 continents in my 20s. Now when people ask me where I'm from, I always have a moment of existential crisis.
The extensive travel experience trained me to not get attached with physical locations, but at the same time I'm very selective about where I consider home emotionally and spiritually. I was born in Nanjing, China, yet the home city I remember has faded in the rapid urban development. Now my family lives in Shanghai and I go back during breaks, but I have never identified myself as a Shanghainese. Now that I live in New York, I feel most at ease to not have to belong. Everyone is a passerby in New York.
But really, my home is in my dreams. My brain somehow morphed the physical places to labyrinths of icons and memories, and I could almost draw a map for every single place I have repeatedly visited there - the Xuanwu Lake in Nanjing, my high school in Shanghai, the sailing ship in the Mediterranean... I love reminiscing about my life experiences by going back to these imaginary yet familiar places in my dream.
2. What is currently inspiring you as a filmmaker?
I'm drawn to the dark side of humanity that is usually a taboo to touch upon in real life. I would ask myself: what if? And sometimes I'm shocked by myself for having such dark thoughts. If it makes my heart ache a little bit, I have to write it down.
And darkness does not necessarily mean murder, violence, or psychopath. It doesn't have to be extreme. The scariest thing is the thought that passes our minds everyday, while most of us choose to look the other way without thinking. But what if someone picked it up, and went with it? What if?
While nuances and possibilities in ordinary life keeps fascinating me, I have always been interested in people in the center of cultural diaspora and don't have a sense of belonging. I also cannot shy away from the trauma growing up in a traditional Asian family as a sensitive teen. My work is usually layered with these elements, as they are very close to home.
3. What has been your most rewarding experience at NYU Tisch Grad Film so far?
Kurosawa once said: “The role of the artist is to not look away.” No matter how painful it is, we must look into the abyss at the bottom of our heart and grow something out of it. My most rewarding experiences have been the most painful ones, to be honest. But I learned a lot about the craft, and more importantly, about myself, which will help me persist as an artist in the long game.