Jianying Chen, 2022 Short Film Palme d'or © Amandine Goetz / FDC

Meet Jianying Chen, 2022 Short Film Palme d’or winner

Having won the 2022 Short Film Palme d’Or at the 75th edition of the Festival de Cannes with her film The Water Murmurs, Jianying Chen reflects on her time in Cannes: the joys of discussing her film with members of the public, the surprise and honour of receiving a Palme d’Or, and how the award has served as a springboard for furthering the young director’s career… 

How did you react when you won your award at the Festival de Cannes?  

When I got the award, it was a huge surprise for me. I totally didn’t expect it because ever since I was in film school, I have thought of the Festival de Cannes as a great honour, a prestigious place to go. Also, I had experimented with a lot of new techniques and ways of telling stories that I wasn’t used to, so it was a challenge and a huge gamble for me as I didn’t know what the end result would be. So receiving an award was incredibly encouraging.  


What has your award brought you? / What did it change for you?  

This award has brought me a lot of attention and opportunities to interact with filmmakers all over the world. I received a lot of audience feedback during and after the Festival. More importantly, I got a lot of support and trust from producers… and that opened up my ways of collaborating with filmmakers all over the world, including a lot of filmmakers who I really look up to. When I got back to China, as a young filmmaker I realised I really needed this kind of trust to proceed to the next stage, to my next film. I definitely think this award changed my career. This is a huge boost for my career and paved the way for collaboration with a lot of great filmmakers.   


What are your best memories of Cannes?  

There were a lot of great memories, but I think the most important one was at the screening of my short film. I remember before and after the screening, the entire audience was clapping for me and all the other short film filmmakers. You could really feel the appreciation and support the audience had for the filmmakers. Especially since it was the world premiere of my first short film at Cannes. It was just such an honour. I still feel so much excitement when I talk about that experience.  

My second-best memory would be after the award ceremony, when I mingled with other filmmakers and audiences out in the streets and at parties. I took in their perspectives and ideas after watching my film. It was my first time having a real conversation with my audience and hearing their thoughts and feelings. And that really meant a lot to me. That’s why I want to make films. It’s my way of having conversations with people all over the world and sharing our emotions and ideas.  


Do you have new projects? 

Yes, I do have a new project coming up. It’s a love story that I’m going to shoot next winter in my hometown, Harbin. It will have a few surrealist elements, like my short film The Water Murmurs. It’s a story about love and death in a city of snow and ice. It’s about how we find ourselves, how we find our authentic selves, by searching beyond the constraints of reality and the ever-changing world around us. It’s about innocence too, how we are drawn to self-destruction, and how we can rebuild our sense of self.  


The video interview :


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