Documentary filmmaker Yi Chen has over a decade of experience producing social justice centered documentary films to advance new narratives from underrepresented perspectives. Her work has qualified for Academy Awards; won awards including Telly Awards, Peer Awards, and IndieCapitol Awards; been featured in the Washington Post, NBC News, Salon, NPR; and been distributed at Oscar-qualifying festivals, on PBS, in theaters, on streaming platforms, and at educational institutions.

Yi directed and produced FIRST VOTE (America ReFramed, 2020) about Asian American voters divided in battleground states and CHINATOWN (WHUT, 2013) about immigrant activists fighting for housing rights in DC’s historic Chinatown. Her credits also include THE PAST AND FUTURE OF DC CHINATOWN (Smithsonian Institute, 2018), U.S. AMBASSADORS IN BEIJING (Voice of America, 2015), TIGRE GENTE (Disney, 2023), GOLD MOUNTAIN (CCTV, 2016), and BORN IN NEW YORK, RAISED IN PARIS (Starline, 2017).

Yi’s work has received support from Ford Foundation JustFilms, Open Society Foundations, ITVS, Center for Asian American Media, Kartemquin Films, Southern Documentary Fund, Smithsonian APA Center, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, and DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She has been on panels and pitches at AFI DOCS, SXSW, DOC NYC, and Tribeca IF/Then.

Yi was a 2019 Soros Equality Fellow and a 2018 Associate of UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program. She was a video journalist at Voice of America and taught at George Mason University’s Film and Video Studies program as an adjunct professor. Prior, she worked at Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation and National Geographic Studios. She also published film and theater reviews of works by Park Chan-wook, Jia Zhangke and David Henry Hwang. Yi holds an MFA in Film and Media Arts from American University and is based in Washington, DC.

Articles, Publications, and Appearances

Exploring the Asian American Political Experience in ‘First Vote’

First Vote: Chinese Americans and the presidential election

AFI DOCS 2020: First Vote Spotlights Asian Voting Issues

Getting inside the minds of Chinese American Trump supporters and their Democratic opposition

First Vote


Southern Fried Asian: ‘First Vote’

Chinatown Documentary Explores Past, Future of Changing Neighborhood

The No Luck Club: Three Films on Displacement in D.C.