Originally from Hong Kong, Yang has worked on a range of feature and documentary films exploring Chinese themes as director and editor. She studied Filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1977. After graduation, she worked as an editor on many Chinese American documentaries and mainstream Hollywood films. She won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject for The Blood of Yingzhou District (2006) and received other awards including an Emmy, the DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award, FilmAid Asia's Humanitarian Award , the Global Health Council Media Award and two IDA Pare Lorentz Award nominations.
In 2003, along with filmmaker Thomas F. Lennon, Yang founded the Chang Ai Media Project to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in China. Since then, its documentaries and public service announcements have been seen by hundreds of millions of Chinese viewers. Lennon and Yang made a trilogy of short documentary films about modern China, including The Blood of Yingzhou District, Tongzhi in Love (2008) and The Warriors of Qiugang, which was nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2011.
Yang relocated to Beijing in 2004 and moved back to Hong Kong in 2013. She was appointed by the University of Hong Kong as Hung Leung Hau Ling Distinguished Fellow in Humanities since the fall of 2013. Her recent feature documentary My Voice, My Life  《争氣》opened in 13 theatres in Hong Kong and Macau. The Wall Street Journal named it "Hong Kong’s five most notable films of 2014". It won the 2015 NPT Human Spirit Award at the Nashville Film Festival.
In 2015, Yang led the establishment of a new documentary project, named HK Documentary Initiative, aiming at fostering the development of the Hong Kong documentary industry. The efforts of the project fall into three categories, Seed Grants, Master Class and Documentary Literacy. Yang herself is the director and one of the creative advisors to support emerging documentary filmmakers in Hong Kong.
Selected filmography (as director)
- My Voice, My Life Revisited  《繼續爭氣》/《继续争气》2020
- Ritoma 《仁多瑪/《仁多玛》2018
- In Search of Perfect Consonance 《尋找完美第五度》/《寻找完美第五度》2016
- My Voice, My Life  《爭氣》/《争气》2014
- The Warriors of Qiugang  《仇崗衛士》/《仇岗卫士》2010
- A Moment in Time  《聲光轉逝》/《声光转逝》2009
- Tongzhi in Love  《彼岸浮生》2008
- The Blood of Yingzhou District《颍州的孩子》2006
- Julia’s Story《朱力亞的故事》/《朱力亚的故事》2005
- China 21  《中國一二》/《中国一二》2002
- 'Citizen Hong Kong  《風雨故園》/《风雨故园》1999
Selected filmography (as editor)
- Becoming American : The Chinese Experience"  2003
- Autumn in New York 2000
- Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl 1998
- Street Soldier 1997
- All Power to the People 1996
- "A.K.A. Don Bonus"  1995
- China: The Wild East  1994
- "The Hung Leung Hau Ling Distinguished Fellow in Humanities enhances Hong Kong's colourful cultural landscape". www.giving.hku.hk. Archived from the original on 2014-07-23.