Lydia Chen is an American filmmaker with lifelong interests in Chinese studies and art. In the early 1990s, she produced her first short documentary, Inner Visions: Avant-Garde Art in China, about Beijing artists in search of modernity. It premiered at the Hawaii International Film Festival and won a Bronze Apple at the National Educational Video and Film Festival.
She had long wished to continue the story of these modern artists as their work became valuable on the international market and their world changed from local to global, from socialist to materialist, from poor to rich. She received a Fulbright grant in 2015 which supported her return to China for ten months of research and production. She shot and edited Art in Smog single-handedly as an independent filmmaker.
Lydia Chen holds an M.J./M.A. in journalism and Asian studies from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College. She lived and worked in Beijing for six years. She has served as associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford and executive director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard.