Blog Entries


A Film Review

Director: Lulu Wang
Production: Apple
Languages: Mandarin (English subtitles)
Runtime: 11 mins 57 seconds
Release: 2021
Available: YouTube

To kick off the Chinese New Year season, Apple has released their latest short film, Nian, describing it as “a Chinese New Year legend reimagined as a contemporary coming-of-age story”. 

The film is directed by Lulu Wang (known most recently for The Farewell) and was shot entirely on the new iPhone 12 Pro Max. For those who appreciate a behind-the-scenes look, an additional ‘making of’ video is also available. Wang not only explains the technical side of production but also shares how memories of her own childhood contributed to bringing the legendary story of the Nian monster to life.

This is not the first time that Apple has partnered with Chinese filmmakers to celebrate Spring Festival. Others similar films include Daughter (2020)The Bucket  (2019), and Three Minutes(2018).

iPhone promotion aside, I really appreciate that cultural influencers are taking the opportunity to remind us of (or introduce us to) Chinese culture and tradition. As we move towards all that is new, digital, and fast, we can easily find ourselves leaving our roots behind. The younger generation of Chinese and especially those part of the diaspora community around the world have a diminishing awareness of their cultural background, including such key pieces of Chinese folklore. 

Instances such as these, where artistic expression, through a wildly popular medium, is used to bring age-old traditions to the present, in a new and refreshing way, is effective in preventing the landmarks of our culture from getting lost. Perhaps simply by modernizing tradition, we can help retain it. 

If we let our fears hold us back, we will miss out on all that is beyond what we can imagine.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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Image credit: Nian, YouTube.
Hannah Lau

Hannah Lau

Hannah Lau was born and raised in Canada. Growing up with immigrant parents from Hong Kong gave her a rich perspective on both Eastern and Western cultures. She has spent her adult life in Asia, beginning in China serving through work in the marketplace. With a colorful and hard-earned career in …View Full Bio

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