Yi Chen is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker. Her feature debut FIRST VOTE qualified for the 2021 Academy Awards Best Picture and Best Documentary Feature, and won the Special Jury Award for Art & Craft of Documentary Form at the 2020 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The film had its national broadcast premiere on PBS America ReFramed as part of the WORLD Channel's “Your Vote 2020” initiative to explore racial diversity of voters ahead of the November election.
Yi’s documentary short CHINATOWN aired on public television and won IndieCapitol Awards Best Documentary Short. She also produced THE PAST AND FUTURE OF DC CHINATOWN for Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum’s "A Right to the City" exhibition.
Born in Shanghai, and based in Washington, DC, Yi holds a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from Fudan University in China and received her MFA in Film and Media Arts from American University. She spent 10 years in nonprofits and journalism including the United Nations Foundation, National Geographic, WAMU and Voice of America. She also taught documentary filmmaking at George Mason University as an adjunct professor for 4 years. Yi has been a recipient of the Soros Equality Fellowship, DC Filmmaker of the Month, and DC Arts and Humanities Fellowship. Her work has also been supported by the Ford Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, ITVS, Kartemquin Films, Southern Documentary Fund, and Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Yi is a member of the Asian American Documentary Network, Asian American Journalism Association, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, ARRAY Crew, and Documentary Producers Alliance.