Qianhui Yu

Sunny screens as part of the BFI Future Film Festival from 18-21 February, free on BFI Player

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Wastopia is a short animated film exploring issues of environmentalism, global attitudes to waste disposal and the environmental pollution that results from human carelessness. The film takes the viewer on a visual journey to an otherworldly place, inhabited by strange creatures and the products of what humans discard, to showcase what might happen if human consumption continues unchecked.

Hi Qianhui thank you for talking to TNC, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

Hi, thank you for sending these interview questions. I’ve been living in London since the pandemic began, so it’s been a bit hard time for me, and I’m still adapting to it.

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?

Because I’ve been living in London since the pandemic began, so it’s been a bit hard time for me, I rarely have chance to go somewhere else, and mostly spend my time indoor. But still I’ve trying my best to stay creative and make new things.

Congratulations on having Wastopia selected for the BFI Future Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of The Dark Side section?

I feel honor to be in a part of Festival screening and grateful to be in The Dark Side section. It is definitely a big achievement happening in my creative life.

Can you tell me a little bit about Wastopia how did this film come about?

'Wastopia' is a short animated film exploring the issues surrounding global attitudes to waste disposal and the environment pollution the inevitably follows. The film indicates a visual journey based on an otherworldly place inhibited by strange creatures and the products of what humans discard.

I always have complicated feeling about food, after watched some ’Mukbang’ live videos, which is a weird video genre but very popular on the internet, it is live footage of someone eating large amounts of food in front of camera while interacting with their audience. This whole phenomenon made me realize how little concern I have about the food waste. Then I broadened my approach to investigate the nature damage from the garbage we throw to over-consumerism. I started to think, ‘What if the wasted food and garbage have feelings? Rethink before you throw them away.’

So I created this 'Wastopia' world, as an otherworldly place inhibited by those creatures transformed by plastic materials, extinct animal skeleton, garbage and wasted food, developing their own ecosystem and hierarchy in a narrative-free exploration of human waste. The aim of this film was not only to raise my own awareness of environment pollution, also others. The issues of waste disposal and food waste are just one of the ways mankind is causing harm and leaving the earth ruined. However, the devastating result of the pollution is something most people don't see everyday, yet it is happening in real time, all the time.

What where the biggest challenges you faced brining this film to life?

I think it should the limited connection between me and my tutors, classmates, composer and helpers. I made this film during the pandemic time, which made it much trickier to achieve in general. I can't use the equipment at college, and my laptop is very slow to run the multiple software, which meant I spent a considerable amount of time waiting for software. 

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

I may would add a main character into the film, but then that would make it a whole new story.

What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Wastopia?

I would say the main lesson would be the development of film Structure, which was a big challenge for me. The structure of my film has evolved and changed several times, but in the end I decided to start with short interesting clips to present the 'Wastopia', then the camera pans out to the further picture of 'Wastopia' in the end, so the audience will immediately understand where is the whole story is happening. 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

Yes for most of the time! I started to learn about filmmaking when I was study in college, it is nice to make a short film program by myself.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Definitely! You’ll never know what you can achieve if you’re not pushing the boundaries. Courage is a huge thing for us to making new works, be brave to say what you want to say in your film. 

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Enjoying and have fun on your project! Be yourself and tell your story genuinely in your works.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Wastopia?

I really hoping people can raise awareness of the issues threatening life as we know it on this planet. Global warming isn't the only thing to worry about, environment pollution, food waste, are just a few of mankind's other harms that are leaving the Earth scorched and ruined. However, the devastating effects of the digital age, demanding food production and melting glaciers are something most people don't see every day.  There’re still lots of things we need to learn.

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