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Filmmaker Q+A: Cherlyn Hsing-Hsin Liu

Cherlyn Hsing-Hsin Liu received a Jury Award at the 56th AAFF for her film How Old Are You? How Old Were You?

How did you come to know that film would be an important medium for


I started off my artistic practice in literature and photography and have

been interested in all kinds of contemporary arts, such as dance, sculpture

and music. And film, as a medium, which is also an art form, contains all


Once you knew that, what did you do? Did you seek formal training,

practical experience, or some combination of the two?

Since 2012 I’ve been studying for my BFA and MFA in the School of Film/Video at California

Institute of the Arts, a school full of amazing people

who inspire and encourage me. During my school years, I’ve explored and

practiced different kinds of form and technique, including still photography,

8mm/16mm/35mm film, sound art, installation, interdisciplinary

collaborations, and more.

Why film?

I’ve always worked with time-based media, film, as well as sound. And

there was one day I came to realize that my own body is also a time-

based material that has been given into this world. It recollects, as a film

records memories; it thinks and feels, as a film expresses and depicts; it

decays and ages, as a film shrinks and becomes out-of-date. So

technically, working with time-based media is working with my own life.

Early influences?

I’m not sure how to answer. I like literature and I always read. When I was

in middle school, I’d go to a bookstore almost every day after school by

myself. I’d pick up any random new arrivals from their display and read until I

became bored. The habit still remains today. I like to read many books at

the same time, allowing myself to bounce between different genres and

languages, because in this way I feel more freedom to be able to refresh

and reconfigure a new language and thinking.

Current sources of inspiration?

The Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhou and German philosopher Arthur

Schopenhauer have always been inspirational sources for me. Later, Pina

Bausch and Diane Arbus have had great influence on me. And recently,

I’ve been inspired by John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Robert Rauschenberg,

Jean Baudrillard—also Stan Brakhage and Maya Deren.

What are you working on?

Now I’m working on a 16mm film, experimenting with calligraphy materials,

such as papers, inks, and brushes.

What’s on your mind (and in your heart) these days?

It’s always about life and lives.

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