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 produce a follow-up story on the young artists from Inner Visions, as they faced China’s rapid changes. In 2015-16, she received a Fulbright grant which supported her return to Beijing to reconnect with her main characters and undertake research and production for Art in Smog.
Lydia Chen was born in Hong Kong, lived in Brazil briefly, and immigrated to the United States when she was five. She first went to China in 1981, just after China opened its doors to the West. She lived in Beijing in the late 1980s, when she met many artists, and again in the late 1990s, when she worked in the international corporate community.
She received her B.A. in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.J./M.A. in journalism and Asian studies from the University of California at Berkeley. 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.