Wu-Ching Chang is passionate about human rights and women’s rights. She found a unique and creative way to express her views through filmmaking. And an empowering one, too!Wu-Ching, who earned a master’s degree in animation from the Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom, is an award-winning animation director and has been working for the past eight years on various commercial and independent projects in the fields of animation, illustration, and game concept art. She is passionate about using animation filmmaking, particularly documentary and experimental animated filmmaking, to bring important topics to light. “To me, filmmaking is a means of expressing my identity and viewpoints on the issues that matter to me. Through my films, I aim to address several topics, including female empowerment, modernity, and humanistic perspectives,” she said.
Her animated short film My Grandmother is an Egg, which was a 2022 Free Speech Film Festival Official Selection winner, is based on her grandmother’s experience as a T’ung-yang-hsi – the traditional practice of prearranged marriage or selling or giving a young girl away to another family to be raised as a future daughter-in-law. She said that even though this practice vanished decades ago, its patriarchal shadow still lingers and that’s what inspired her to make the film.
“By bearing witness to this phenomenon through my grandmother’s story, the audience can glimpse into the distant past, imagine the situation of women in our own times, and aspire towards gender equality in the future. I hope the audience can also gain fresh insight into how social norms and power structures impact our daily lives while watching the film,” she said.
The film, which is narrated in Mandarin with English subtitles, is based on interviews with Wu-Ching’s grandmother’s children. In a synopsis of the film on her website, Wu-Ching said it aims to reflect upon women’s oppression and struggle for freedom. It goes on to explain that her grandmother was just a child when she was placed with this family to be raised as the future daughter-in-law. She was given productive roles like doing household choirs and wasn’t allowed to receive an education. In the film, the egg is used as a metaphor for women and symbolizes these productive roles women have to play in a male-dominated society. Wu-Ching ends the synopsis by saying, “Egg is life per se. Eggs are fragile, but at the same time tough. My grandmother is an egg.”
Wu-Ching said that she learned about the importance of free speech through her grandmother’s story and feels that a world without free speech only leads to oppression.
“It’s important that everyone has the power of free speech, as it is a fundamental human right that enables individuals to express their opinions and ideas freely without fear of censorship or persecution. It is through free speech that people can engage in productive and open dialogue and exchange ideas. Without free speech, individuals can be oppressed and silenced,” she said.
Wu-Ching added that there is strength in numbers and encouraged those who feel they aren’t in a position to make their voice heard to seek out a community.
“Even if individuals face limitations or do not have free speech to express their opinions and ideas, there are still various ways to make a difference in their communities. They can use alternative mediums to express themselves, establish relationships with community members, and participate in community events,” she said.
In reflecting on the Free Speech Film Festival, Wu-Ching said she decided to enter the festival because it gave her the opportunity to reach a broader audience who were equally as passionate as her about human rights issues. In addition to the Free Speech Film Festival Official Selection award, My Grandmother Is an Egg also won the Jury Special Mention Award at the Atlanta Film Festival and Women Make Waves Film Festival and was officially selected at several other global film festivals, including Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Animafest Zagreb, and Flickerfest International Short Film Festival.
She’s currently in the early stages of preparing her next animated film production, which she said will be in the same creative style as her previous work, and is eager to share it with audiences.
“What I envision for the future of the creative industry is a greater influence of (artificial intelligence) and the integration of AI technology into the production pipeline. That is a significant issue that cannot be ignored by anyone in the creative industry,” she said.
She encouraged other filmmakers who are passionate about making their voice heard to enter the Free Speech Film Festival. “In filmmaking, it is essential to remain true to oneself and stay committed to conveying one’s own principles. Submit your film to the Free Speech Film Festival to express yourselves,” she said.
For more information about Wu-Ching and her films, visit https://www.wuchingchang.com.