Vanessa started her film career in China while teaching a graduate course on law and society at People's University (on a grant from the Ford Foundation) and completing her PhD at Columbia University. Fluent in Chinese, she has produced multiple films in China, including Wang Quanan’s The Story Of Ermei (Berlin Film Festival), Chantal Akerman’s Tombee De Nuit Sur Shanghai, and her own short films—China In Three Words, featuring Chinese author, Yu Hua (Palm Springs, Doc NYC 2013), and China Connection: Jerry, with Jerome Alan Cohen (Palm Springs, Doc NYC 2014). She directed and produced a web series for NYU’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute called Law, Life & Asia. Her U.S. producing credits include the feature documentary William Kunstler: Disturbing The Universe, by Sarah and Emily Kunstler (Sundance, 2009). Vanessa’s feature documentary directorial debut, All Eyes And Ears, premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

Prior to her film career, Vanessa worked on foreign policy issues at the Council on Foreign Relations with Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies Elizabeth Economy. She also worked at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations when David Lampton was president. She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, and her PhD studies at Columbia have included the Princeton University program in Beijing, and a year at Stanford University’s program in Taipei. Vanessa grew up in New York City, but lives in Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter @VHopeful and @alleyesearsdoc.

Last Updated: June 7, 2015



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