Cathy Yan is a Chinese-American film director, screenwriter, and producer whose films include the 2018 comedy-drama film Dead Pigs and the 2020 DC Comics film Birds of Prey.
Yan was born in China and raised in Hong Kong and Washington, DC. She graduated with a bachelor's degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2008, an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business in 2014 and an MBA/MFA dual degree in producing from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program in 2016.
Yan worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal in New York, Hong Kong and Beijing before turning to film-making.
After making several shorts, Yan wrote and directed Dead Pigs, her debut movie set in Shanghai. She decided to pursue the film after reading a news story about 16,000 dead pigs mysteriously floating down the Huangpu River, which she found a compelling metaphor. Funded by Chinese investors, Yan shot the dark comedy in Shanghai with a bilingual crew, then completed the film in New York; "Sixth Generation" filmmaker Jia Zhangke executive produced. Dead Pigs premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won a Special Jury Award for ensemble acting.
In April 2018, Yan was selected to direct a Harley Quinn DC Extended Universe superhero film, Birds of Prey, based on the comic of the same name, with Christina Hodson writing the script and Margot Robbie attached to star. Yan will be the second woman and the first Asian woman to direct a DC film (or any US superhero film). The film is scheduled for release on February 7, 2020.