Yiwen Cao

Check out the full interview with Yiwen below...

The short film Graduation focuses on short videos’ negative influence. In the film, we use a common programmer’s breakdown to show how KOLs’ on short videos mislead common people that millionaires are easy to be. The programmer’s mom believes KOLs’ words that programmers are all millionaires, so she is dissatisfied of her son/daughter, because she thinks the child doesn’t give her enough money. The programmer hates those lying KOLs but could do nothing. In the end, COVID-19 comes, and the programmer get fired. He/She is yelled with despair then breakdown.


This story has a special background. During the epidemic of COVID-19, many people are facing the crisis of unemployment. Due to strict prevention measures, Chinese Internet enterprises suffer heavy losses and decide to fire more than millions of programmers. And these companies use the word “Graduation” instead of “Layoff”. Maybe these companies think that will sound better. But layoff is the fact. Their employees will never want to hear the word “Graduation”.


And here is one thing that you may be interested in: the main role has no gender. You may feel confused when watching the short film at the first time, because you can’t make sure the main role is male or female. And that’s what the story wants to tell you: It doesn’t matter. The gender of the main role doesn’t mean anything, just like “Graduation” and “Layoff” have no difference in fact. The main role is a person, the person who is like you, him, her, etc. No matter gender, color or race, people are people, we all have joy, anger, sorrow and fear. Basically, we are the same.


Last but not at least, I want to thank my workmate Miss Hong Hong, who is the co-screenwriter of this short film. She came up with the idea about conflicts of short videos and daily pressure. Then we worked together to create the whole story. Hong Hong is a very pure and kind person, she wants to give the world positive energy from sorrow. Just like showing the colorful flower from wet muddy soil. And Miss Shi Yike is also a warm hearting person. She acted as Mom in Graduation.

I am just a common person who live a common life. I don’t worry about tomorrow and I don’t think much about yesterday. So, I read books and forget books. I watch films then let them away. Those books I read and films I have watched already became a kind of nutrition and be a part of me. I may not remember every story of them, but I can feel the positive effects they gave me.


In fact, I am interested in thinking about how to encourage people, especially women. Because women already suffered a lot in past thousands of years. Until to recent years, there are still many women are regarded as just machines to product babies and do chores. They are not respected as human beings. So, I want to make some films, no matter long or short films, to tell people, especially women that there is not only one lifestyle. To get educated, to read books, to explore the world, you will find a brand-new lifestyle and be happy.


By the way, if your magazine is Santa, I wish you can package my encouragement and colorful wishes to everyone who still suffers a lot in the world. Please tell them that everyone has ability to change their own lives. Education and kindness will be two useful weapons that to cut thistles and thorns. Cheer up!

I think the universe, nature, ancient books and daily lives are all significant directors that inspire me. When night falls, I raise my head and see those shining stars on the sky, I can feel about both eternal and moment. Life is short, so do we need to leave something to the beloved world? Treasure will be buried by dirt, memory will be blown by wind, tear will be washed by water, life will be cut by death’s metal, even those love which ever burned us will be end in the fire. We could not leave anything after passing away. Anything but inspiration. If there is anyone, even a single puppy, a fly, who can get inspired by our films. Our lives finally mean something. And my next film is telling about inspiration and women, hope it will encourage more people.

In ancient time, writing books is the best way to tell stories. Luckily, nowadays we have films. Films will be much effective to influence people than other ways. When I made the first feature film Chubby Café. I didn’t think much. I just want to show people some Chinese young and shining girls and discussing about love among family, friends and lovers.


But after that, I suddenly want to be a director, to write and direct a new story to encourage people. To let audience fell that they are a part of my film. They are familiar with those roles. And they could be inspired. Because they finally feel like those roles are themselves.


I am a peace lover, but peace also includes inner peace. So, I wish my audience can get positive inspiration from my films. That means a lot.

The short film Graduation is a low budget film. They only thing that I can rely on is the story. But low budget is fine, I want audience can see the essence theme rather than fancy technique.

Since we want people to only care about the theme of the story, we made an experiment—we used very simple way to shoot Graduation. So, some people who get used to watch fancy films may dislike this film. But that would be fine. Our target is to attract people who can appreciate the theme of our film, just like your magazine. Even just one person can get inspiration from Graduation, we will feel very happy.

Luckily, there are always some patient audience. Some female audience like Graduation, and some programmers who were fired or almost get fired have lots of feeling about this film. Last month, I joined the meeting with Laurie, who is the organizer of Montreal International Animation Film Festival, which is Canadian Screen Award Qualifying. He praised Graduation and welcome us to join his festival.

I think styles are not the most important thing. The core is that a qualifying filmmaker should be creative and positive. No matter what styles they use, the produce should be meaningful. Filmmakers have the obligation to encourage audience. Moreover, making films will cost lots of resource, so those films should not be garbage, or it even cannot be compared to a dustbin.

If films are nutrition, film festivals are blood vessels which can transfer outstanding nutrition to heart, where audiences stay. As a very beginning filmmaker, I thank all film festivals who help me exhibit in front audiences. I love audiences, but it is too hard to approach them. So, I always feel grateful to both festivals and audiences.

I spent 6 years to finish an original screenplay, which I believe that can encourage people who suffer a lot, especially the poor and women. I will try my best to make it to be a film, and hope audiences can benefit from my next film.

Thank you for this inspiring interview and for taking the time to honestly answer all the questions. The BIA team wishes you great success with your next projects!