Cathy Yan

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Cathy Yan
Alma mater
Years active2010–present
Cathy Yan
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese阎羽茜

Cathy Yan is a Chinese-American film director, screenwriter, and producer whose films include the 2018 comedy-drama film Dead Pigs and the 2020 DC Comics film Birds of Prey.

Early life[edit]

Yan was born in China[1] and raised in Hong Kong and Washington, DC. She graduated with a bachelor's degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2008,[2] an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business in 2014 and an MBA/MFA dual degree in producing from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program in 2016.[3][4][5]


Yan worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal[1] in New York, Hong Kong and Beijing before turning to film-making.[5]

After making several shorts, Yan wrote and directed Dead Pigs, her debut movie set in Shanghai. She decided to pursue the film after reading a news story about 16,000 dead pigs mysteriously floating down the Huangpu River, which she found a compelling metaphor.[1] Funded by Chinese investors, Yan shot the dark comedy in Shanghai with a bilingual crew, then completed the film in New York; "Sixth Generation" filmmaker Jia Zhangke executive produced.[1] Dead Pigs premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won a Special Jury Award for ensemble acting.[6]

In April 2018, Yan was selected to direct a Harley Quinn DC Extended Universe superhero film, Birds of Prey, based on the comic of the same name, with Christina Hodson writing the script and Margot Robbie attached to star.[1] Yan will be the second woman and the first Asian woman to direct a DC film (or any US superhero film).[7] The film is scheduled for release on February 7, 2020.[8]


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer
2013 Last Night Yes Yes Short films
2016 Down River Yes Yes
According to My Mother Yes Yes
2018 Dead Pigs Yes Yes
2020 Birds of Prey[9] Yes No Post-production


Year Title Notes
2010 Phishing Short films
2014 Dinosaur Rider
Of Tooth and Time
2015 Humpty
2016 Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang Documentary film;
Associate producer
2017 Groomed Short film


  1. ^ a b c d e Rife, Katie (April 17, 2018). "Meet Cathy Yan, the woman hired to direct DC's next Harley Quinn movie". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  2. ^ Karuppur, Abhiram (2018). "Feb. 13, 2018: Hamm '78 on Activism in Newark; Sigman '89 *98's New Spin on Interpretive Dance; and More". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  3. ^ Teodorczuk, Tom (2018). "Sundance award-winning director Cathy Yan on shunning Hollywood for China with her debut movie 'Dead Pigs'". MarketWatch. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Tisch at Sundance - 2018 Sundance - Premieres". Tisch School of the Arts. 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Cathy Yan". Tisch School of the Arts. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. ^ Kiang, Jessica (25 January 2018). "Sundance Film Review: 'Dead Pigs'". Variety. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr (17 April 2018). "Cathy Yan Is Warner Bros' Choice To Direct Margot Robbie In Next Harley Quinn Film". Deadline. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  8. ^ Couch, Aaron (September 24, 2018). "Margot Robbie's 'Birds of Prey' Gets 2020 Release Date confirmed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  9. ^ "Margot Robbie Reveals Full 'Birds of Prey' Title: 'The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 20, 2018. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.

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