American Girl - Department of Chinese Literature Alumna's Journey from Literature to Film
In her feature-length directorial debut with American Girl, NTU Department of Chinese Literature alumna Feng-I Fiona Roan (阮鳳儀) earned seven nominations at the 2021 Golden Horse Awards (金馬獎), including Best Feature Film, as well as three wins, including Best New Director. On December 16, 2021, Ms. Roan was invited to return to her alma mater to speak at the Department of Chinese Literature's Boya Alumni Forum, where she shared her journey from literature to film with current students.
Ms. Roan, now a creator in the new generation of arts and culture, was once an NTU student herself, having enrolled in 2008. However, she had set her aspirations on becoming a writer since high school. Ms. Roan recounted that during her studies in the Department of Chinese Literature, she was the type of student that took on a heavy course load, and through her extensive coursework and reading, she was able to continuously cultivate her abilities. Specialized training in the Department of Chinese Literature allowed her to heighten her sensitivity to language, which influenced her to compose film scripts that she considers to be a preliminary performance guide for the actors, with use of language strongly emphasized.
After graduating from NTU, Ms. Roan, humbly regarding the threshold for working in literature as too high, changed career tracks to become a screenwriter and director, hoping to use film as medium to communicate with the world. She went on to study directing at the American Film Institute and, as her graduation project, made the short film "JIEJIE", which won the audience award at the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia (Tokyo), one of the world's three major short film festivals, as well as a Special Mention at the Kaohsiung Film Festival and the HBO Asian Pacific American Visionary Award. In 2018, she was selected by Golden Horse Film Project Promotion for the feature-length film American Girl, winning three Golden Horse Awards for the film in 2021. Recently, the director also published a book containing the screenplay and behind-the-scenes content for American Girl; in a twist of fate, Ms. Roan, through her filmmaking, has become an author after all.
Ms. Roan's journey to become a director may sound as if it went without a hitch, but while answering questions from the audience, she revealed that she faced many difficulties and restrictions along the way. However, she always faced challenges with thought and sincerity. Inviting Ms. Roan to share her valuable experience at the Boya Alumni Forum has hopefully given current students guidance and sparked their inspiration.