Lili Huang reflects on “Mei Mei”, one of the highlights of her career

When Lili Huang looks back on her life, she finds it difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that she decided to pursue her dreams of becoming a filmmaker. As a young child, she lived with her grandparents and fondly recalls making up stories to entertain them during family time. She would dream up a world of little ideas, laughing hysterically as she acted them out for her audience and looking forward to the next time she would get to bring her characters to life before their eyes. She was always bursting with tales to share and she quickly learned that making movies allowed her to channel that creative energy productively. Today, the talented screenwriter, director, editor, and producer, has proven herself to be a strong presence in the industry and hopes to continue to grow that reputation for several years to come.

Throughout her career, Huang as lent her talents to a number of esteemed projects. In conjunction with other filmmakers, she has worked on several international feature film productions, such as The Jade Pendant and The Bombing. For projects like these, Huang often poses not only as a contributor to the filmmaking process, but also as a communicator between Mandarin-speaking colleagues on the Chinese side of production and English-speaking colleagues on the American side of production. Her vast amount of experience working within and outside of her native country give her a unique edge above her competition.

In addition to her work with international film productions, Huang writes, directs, edits, and produces her own scripts. Through her original concept films such as Xixi, and The Flower of the Future, Huang endeavors to broaden the perspectives of her audiences and open their eyes to cultural and intellectual issues across the globe. In fact, one of the highlights of her career thus far was in 2014 and 2015, when she created Mei Mei. Mei Mei follows the life of a Chinese girl living in the United States with her American adoptive parents. At school, a new boy joins Mei Mei’s class after moving from China to America with his mother. Struggling to make friends and assimilate to American culture, Chris attempts to bond with Mei Mei over their shared heritage; however, to his dismay, she is not so keen. As time elapses, Chris begins to teach Mei Mei the Chinese language. The story eventually comes to an end when Chris must move back to China due to his illness. Fortunately, Mei Mei has their time together to cherish in her memory and is finally able to come to terms with her own identity struggles.

“I think this film is so important because identities are crucial to each and every single person, no matter where they’re from. It’s a question of who we are, where we come from, where we’ll go, and how we will recognize and appreciate the culture we belong to. So many people face these kinds of issues on a daily basis, especially if they’re exploring a new culture or place. For some people, it takes a lifetime to come to terms with these internal struggles. Mei Mei does an effective job of showing that as long as you find confidence and comfort in your own identity, the peace inside your heart will allow your bravery to shine through,” stated Huang.

As the sole creator of Mei Mei, Huang had to exercise her abilities as a screenwriter, director, producer, and editor, all at the same time. With that, she had to finesse every single detail from conceptualizing, to filming, to post-production. She began by developing her script and upon receiving approval from her advisors and mentors, she solicited the help of a cast and crew. Together, they filmed each scene, carefully ensuring that they captured all of Chris and Mei Mei’s emotional conquests. Once they were certain that they had footage that they could be proud of, Huang edited it together to create her final project. Xuhua Hu, who was fortunate enough to work with Huang on the film, was impressed by the way in which her own experiences working in China and the United States helped her to form the film’s underlying mood and emotional tones.

“Lili has accumulated a vast amount of experience and understanding of film production resources through her work in China and the United States. After working with her, I can confidently say that she is an invaluable professional filmmaker. Not only that, but she is a talented and outstanding screenwriter,” said Hu.

Mei Mei premiered in May of 2015 and Huang was extremely humbled by the way her audience received it. She was showered with praise and recognition for the hard work and dedication that she had put into ensuring that the project was a success. To her added delight, Mei Mei garnered a substantial amount of acclaim when it screened at festivals around the world. In fact, the film earned her an Official Selection at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, as well as at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best Film, and won Best Screenplay at the Golden Panda Awards in 2015. Though she does not conduct her work solely in pursuit of awards and praise, Huang was extremely humbled by the Mei Mei’s tremendous success. She felt that these awards were a testament to the devotion she had for the film and to her career as a whole.

So, what’s next for this talented filmmaker? Recently, Huang was hired to be the screenwriter of an animated feature film called Sang Sang, which is being developed by Shanghai Animation Film Studios. If Huang were able to tell her childhood self that she would one day write a screenplay for the number one animation production company in China, she would be overwhelmed with joy.

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