The true story through BiLan Liao's artwork. She came to America at her age 45 to have the freedom to paint her and her family journey under the dictator Mao Zedong. She also painted her life in America. BiLan Liao is a first-time filmmaker, retired art professor, GA AAPIS leadership council, GA US, and author of the book "Diary of the Dragon’s Daughter”.
She was born and raised in China. She and her family experienced much discrimination and many hardships under the dictator Mao Zedong. While still in China, in 1999 she was granted U.S. permanent residency as an “Alien of Extraordinary Abilities.” At age forty-five, she realized her dream when she came to America.
BiLan earned two master’s degrees in art (MA and MFA), studied art in Italy, and became an art college professor in Kentucky, where she built the BiLan Liao Gallery. She has been featured in these news programs: ABC Night line, AJC, Supper China, The world China, Morning Blend (ABC), WSIU (PBS), National Public Radio…and exhibit her art work in national and international at galleries and museums. It is our pleasure to interview her for Chicago Movie Magazine.
What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?
I am an artist and retired art professor, and I hope that filmmaking will promote my deep desire to educate people to find the courage to stand up for freedom of speech. I also hope that filmmaking will promote diversity, and help us to remember that we are all in this together. We all want to be happy and avoid suffering, and fear of discrimination and persecution. My message is, never give up your dream for freedom.
Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?
I have not had the opportunity to attend film school. But I must say film making has been an education in learning many things, filming, video, audio, directing, producing, editing and more technology.
What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?
People love cinema because the action invites them in to the story, and engages them in a deep and meaningful way.
Why do you like to make art and documentaries?
I love making art. I am a painter, sculptor, and now a new filmmaker. I will paint till I die because paint is in my blood. The documentary “An Artist's Journey from China to America” with my paintings tells my true story in a visional art form. So many people’s hearts are touched and inspired from my paintings, as well my new documentary film.
Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?
I do consider myself an indie filmmaker and I am a first-time filmmaker. The most difficult thing is meeting professional people who will help me finance, produce and promote my work. I am looking for professionals who are interested in art, women’s rights, civil rights and stories of perseverance.
What is the distribution plan for your film and how are you planning to reach a greater audience for your project?
I am a first-time filmmaker; I hope my project will get distributor attention in the future because my story is very compelling and touches people’s hearts and encourages everyone to never give up.
If you are a fan of history, culture, art, or tales of human perseverance, you will absolutely love my story.
My cinematic goal is to tell the true story of what happened to me and my family living through the dark and terrifying days under the Mao government. I want to promote hope, courage, women’s rights, freedom and the American Dream. My work explores the relationship of my personal story, Chinese history, and fine art in this project An Artist’s Journey from China to America. I would like my paintings in museums for the education of everyone before I die.
What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?
The impact my film would have on the world would be to promote freedom, hard work, courage, kindness and compassion. My audience is people all over the world, and my message is that we learn from history so we can live together better. There is only one race - the Human Race, and there is nothing we cannot do if we work together. This is especially relevant today with so many hate crimes against Asians and other people of color.