Yan Chun Su is a self-taught documentary filmmaker. She was born in China and received her education in both China and the US. After working as a computer software engineer for a number of companies in Boston, Yan took to the road and traveled to many far and distant places including Patagonia, the Amazon, the Arctic, Mongolia, and remote communities in China and southeast Asia. Her first film, Sega, African School Dream, which aired on Current TV, was a product from teaching in a small village in Ghana during 2006.
Since then, documentaries she produced and directed have been shown on cable TV and in film festivals internationally. Yan also works as a cinematographer and editor, and she makes promotional videos for non-profit organizations. From 2005, Yan began traveling to the Nu(Salween) River Canyon in southwest China near the Burmese and Tibetan border and documented some of the uniquely diverse indigenous cultures of that area. Spending an extensive period of time with one family of Lisu people, one of the thirteen ethnic minorities in the region, she worked as a one-woman crew and made Treasure of the Lisu, a 30-minute observational style documentary. The film presents an intimate portrait of one of the last remaining tradition bearers of an ethnic minority living in modern day China.
Drokpa, a documentary about Tibetan nomads facing ecological and cultural survival is her first feature-length documentary. Filmed at the eastern Tibetan plateau among one extended nomadic family for over four years, Drokpa premiered at the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC in October 2016 and it received the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature film at the 2017 DOXA Documentary Film Festival.
Yan continues to explore the endless possibilities of using documentary films to tell stories about her native China and other parts of the world she encountered. Several projects are under development.