Jian Yi

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Jian Yi
Alma mater
Years active2000s-present
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese簡藝
Simplified Chinese简艺

Jian Yi (Chinese: 简艺; pinyin: jiǎn yì) is a Chinese independent filmmaker, social innovator and food activist who currently conducts research at the Animal Law and Policy Program at the Harvard Law School since 2022. His films Bamboo Shoots and Super, Girls! won a number of international film festival awards. Jian Yi co-founded the ground-breaking China Villager Documentary Project with filmmaker Wu Wenguang in 2004, and founded the IFChina Original Studio in 2008. His works have been shown at numerous film festivals, museums (including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York) and university campuses across the globe. Jian Yi also spoke at the Apple Artists' Series among many public and media talks, including the BBC and the National Public Radio.

Since 2014, Jian Yi has been at the forefront of promoting sustainable food system in China. He founded and preside the Good Food Fund under the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, one of the ten global Top Visionaries named by the Rockefeller Foundation for its 2050 Food Systems Vision Prize. He was frequently interviewed by international media for his views on China's food systems and appeared on Eating Animals, a documentary produced by Natalie Portman.

Jian Yi served on the Core Leadership Team of Action Track 2 of the United Nations Food Systems Summit between 2020 and 2021 and led the initial Workstream 1 on Food Environments. He has served on a number of roles related to this, including on several UNFSS action areas, FoodXFilm Festival, etc. Jian Yi also led his colleagues to set up the China Action Hub for UNFSS AT2, and organized 10+ independent dialogues on food systems in the first half of 2021, with a combined views of 1 million for their livestreams across platforms. He serves as the Deputy Secretary General of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation.

Jian Yi founded the China Vegan Society, which was officially launched in Dali, Yunnan, May 2021, receiving supporting messages from celebrated figures such as Peter Singer, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Joaquin Phoenix.

Personal life[edit]

Jian Yi was born in Ji'an, Jiangxi, China in 1975. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife, Eva Song, and son, Kuankuan.


Jian Yi got three Master's degrees respectively an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2022, an MA in International Journalism from Beijing Broadcasting Institute in 1999, and an MA in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame in 1998. Jian Yi received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2015. While at Harvard, he was a Mason Fellow and a Gleitsman Leadership Fellow of the Center for Public Leadership. Jian Yi conducts research at the Animal Law and Policy Program at the Harvard Law School since 2022. He got a Bachelor of Education in Education Management from Jiangxi Normal University in 1995,

He was a tenured lecturer at the Communication University of China for five years (1999-2004).


Jian Yi is the founder and director of ARTiSIMPLE Studio, which was founded in January 2005 and has pioneered the art of collaborative community and citizen projects. In 2005–2006, he partnered with premier documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang to launch the China Villager Documentary Project. Jian's photos on China's village governance toured the nation's seven provinces as well as the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels and the Seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

In 2007, Jian Yi won the Bronze Zenith Award at the 31st Montreal World Film Festival for his feature film Dong Sun ("Bamboo Shoots"), one of only two Asian films to win an award. In 2007 Jian also produced and directed Super, Girls!, the only independently produced documentary film about the Super Girl singing contest, one of the most popular TV shows in China's history.[citation needed] As a result, he was one of the three Chinese national finalists selected by the British Council for the 2007 International Young Film Entrepreneur of the Year award. (Bamboo Shoots officially hit Canadian cinemas on August 26, 2010.)

Social Memories/Civic Engagement[edit]

Jian launched the IFChina in his hometown of Ji'an, birthplace of Mao Zedong's Revolution, in 2008–2009 with Douglas Xiao and Eva Song. IFChina was China's first civic engagement center that focuses solely on documenting social memories through the use of filmmaking, photography, oral history and theater. It was inspired by the China Villager Documentary Project, co-founded by Wu Wenguang and Jian Yi in 2004.

Food systems activism[edit]

Jointly with Yale Hospitality of Yale University, Jian started the China Food Leadership Initiative in 2018 and during the Chinese New Year in 2019, he headed a delegation of seven top Chinese chefs, entrepreneurs, journalists and toured five U.S. universities (Yale, UMass, Harvard, UConn and CIA), where they coached chefs in the host universities on preparing for Chinese New Year banquets and were engaged in dialogues on sustainable food system. The tour was taken place under the theme of the Food Forward Forum.

Other activism[edit]

In 2012–2014, he lived and worked at the 1700-year-old Buddhist monastery at the foot of Mount Lu, a World Heritage Site.

Jian Yi served as a member of the Art Advisory Board for the Yale-China Association. He was the founding president of the Notre Dame Club of Beijing in 2006.



Bamboo Shoots

Super Girls!


Year English Title Chinese Title Notable screenings
2007–2009 New Socialist Climax (documentary) 红色之旅
2007 Bamboo Shoots (narrative) 冬笋 Solo screening, Hong Kong Art Center, 2010
2007 Super, Girls! (documentary) 超级女生 Cherry Lane Movies, Beijing; Caochangdi Workstation, Beijing; Brooklyn Academy of Music; Yale University; New York University; University of Southern California; University of California, Los Angeles; California College of the Arts; China Institute
2007–2009 JI'AN 24x60' (experimental video, 24 minutes) 吉安 24x60
2009 Remote Control (experimental video, 11 minutes) 遥控
2009 What's for Dinner (29',documentary) 何以为食
2012 Global Civics (documentary) 全球公民
2014-2016 The 1000-Hour Film Project: Stories of Birth (documentary) 1000小时的电影:《生的故事》
2017- Zodiac 12 (documentary) 《十二生肖》

External links[edit]