Keith Q. Chen

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Keith Q. Chen

/ Director

Born September, 1980

My Story

Keith Qixi Chen (Chen Qifei ) began his artistic journey at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, specializing in Cinematography. He then advanced his studies at the Beijing Film Academy, securing a Master’s Degree in Film Directing. There, he was fortunate to study under the revered fifth-generation Chinese filmmaker, Tian Zhuang Zhuang.

In 2003, his work on “Overture,” directed by Christopher Wedding, earned him a nomination for Best Cinematography at the Dusty Film Festival. The following year, Keith showcased his acting prowess, receiving a Best Actor nomination for “Chinese Dream” directed by Victor Quinaz at the Georgia International Film Festival.

2006 marked a significant collaboration with the acclaimed John Woo, as Keith took on the role of assistant director during the pre-production of “Red Cliff”. By 2007, his short film “Not bad, Boy” was officially recognized by the Chicago International Film Festival. Keith then lent his cinematography skills to Larry Yang’s feature film, “Return,” which was broadcast on CCTV6 in China.

In 2014, Keith’s diverse talents were on display when he co-directed and edited the short film “Audition,” helmed by Celine Li, which clinched the Best Ensemble Cast award at the Asian On Film Festival. The next year, he journeyed to Sichuan, China to serve as the director of photography for “Once Upon a Time in Sichuan,” directed by Zifei Deng; the film debuted on Tencent in 2016. Highlighting his dynamic progression in the film industry, Keith directed “When He Comes Back” in 2022, a film that has been honored with Best Actress awards at both the Berlin Indie Film Festival and the Boden International Film Festival.

Director Statement

Seattle has this melodramatic quality that encourages me to bring about the story I’ve been envisioning for years. It’s almost as if the city itself was meant to be the backdrop of my tale. And with the incredible help of my friend David John Roberts, whom I met in Beijing, China – someone who has experienced both cultures just like me, but in reverse – we made a perfect team to bring this vision to life.

Love is universal, and its meaning can vary greatly across different cultures. Romance, in particular, is a type of love that can sometimes have a profound impact on one’s life journey. In the world of film, Asian Americans have seen increased representation, breaking free from the stereotypes depicted in earlier Western cinema. This film also serves as a portrayal of the Asian American experience of dislocation in the USA, exploring the complexities of love, identity and the journey of finding oneself.

My Filmography

  • Year Film Title Description
  • October 1, 2022 When He Comes Back “When he comes back” (西雅图没有雨) is a riveting transnational drama from Chinese-American director, Keith Q. Chen, in which the tangled tapestry of love, loyalty, and personal identity unfurls against the backdrop of cultural dislocation. Set predominantly in Seattle, the narrative follows Lucy, an immigrant torn between two worlds. Her sense of self is fragmented, both within her evolving domestic sphere and amidst the shifting sands of cross-cultural living. The film navigates Lucy's emotional landscape; in her family, the presence of her father's new fiancée poses challenges to their bond, while in her personal life, her long-standing relationship with Leon culminates in a looming engagement. However, the sudden re-emergence of Cary, a college confidante and former muse for Lucy's photography passions, ignites dormant emotions. Their shared history, rife with palpable tension and unspoken affections, adds layers of complexity to the narrative. The countryside sojourn, meant to be a celebratory weekend retreat of duck hunting and nature photography with Cary’s uncle Bill, swiftly transforms into a crucible of mounting tensions. The juxtaposition of serene landscapes of Washington State clashes with the trio's tumultuous dynamics. After a distressing episode of physical violation —Leon forcing Lucy into sex while Cary sits in the next room- and emotional turbulence, the film reaches a poignant climax when Leon is found unconscious in the mud the following day, his life hanging in the balance. Accusations fly and Cary finds himself ensnared in a web of suspicion. While the undercurrents of passion, betrayal, and tragedy flow through the storyline, the film truly shines in its exploration of Lucy's inner journey. Amidst the chaos, Lucy embarks on a path of self-reflection, grappling with the trauma of her past and the promise of a future she must now redefine. In the end, “this film is an evocative exploration of the dislocated psyche and the intricacies of cultural assimilation. It compellingly delves into the challenges of self-identity, the fragility of relationships, and the relentless pursuit of self-actualization.

My Award

  • Year Film Title Award(s)

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