Sunny (Xiaoqing) Chen


What’s your desire at the moment?


Upstairs (2021) is a short film about a painter living at the poverty line who is lost in his art work in a dilapidated building in the early 2000s.

In Upstairs, the main character is a painter who is living at the poverty line and once had a deep passion for painting. No longer satisfied by his art work, he feels depressed and frustrated. His roommate is a fish, which he observes when he is stuck in his work. As the painter looks at the fish, he feels like he is looking at himself. They are both lonely and lost, yet trapped, too. A sex worker dressed in fancy clothes lives in an apartment upstairs. He sees her walking by everyday, but they have never talked. He finds her full of mystery, but especially her brooch — maybe because it is the most precious thing he has ever seen. The brooch implicitly symbolizes his desire of upper class(rich).

He pursues something from the woman… An inspiration? Her body? Or just the brooch? Who knows? I believe different viewers will see different answers. Whether it is the experience of “having sex” with a sex worker or observing her death, it is all grist for the mill for the painter in reconnecting with and creating his art.

The style of this film is inspired by my favourite director, Wong Kar-Wai. In terms of direction, Wong takes mood very seriously. I like how he uses lighting and colour to create the atmosphere that contributes to telling his stories. His characters are usually shown either escaping, searching or waiting. Wong calls attention to the poor, the overlooked and the marginalized in our society through his realistic portrayals of the Chinese identity.


Director: Xiaoqing Chen

Writer: Yuhao Huang

Producer: Xiaoqing Chen

First A.D: Xiaodan Liu

D.O.P: Rian Liu

Camera Assist: Zhongjie Chen

Editor: QIN
Music composer: Baizhi Huang

Sound Mix: T. O

Boom: Juncheng Yu

Make up: Soling Huang

Prod: Xiaodan Liu

Thanks all of my crews!! You guys awesome!

Behind The Scene

Production design achievement

Sunny (Xiaoqing) Chen

Sunny Chen, born and raised in Canton, China, is a photographer and film- maker. She has a Bachelor of Media Arts degree, with a major in Film + Screen Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She is a perfectionist, but she is trying to accept some imperfection in this world, like morally grey areas of society. She thinks imperfection is one kind of perfectionism. All of her inspira- tions come from life, reality and every challenge that she appreciates and meets.
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