Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Meet our graduates: Yixiang Shirley Lin

Shortly after graduating in Film, Exhibition and Curation, Yixiang developed her final masters project into the MINT Chinese Film Festival of which she is Co-founder and Lead Curator.

Photo of Yixiang Shirley Lin on graduation day standing outside Old College
Yixiang on her graduation day from the MSc in Film, Exhibition and Curation

Originally from Beijing, Yixiang Shirley Lin completed a Bachelor of Arts in Politics: Philosophy and Economics in Italy before moving to London to work in independent film curation.

She came to the University of Edinburgh in 2021 to develop her curatorship through our MSc programme in Film, Exhibition and Curation (FEC).

Yixiang's final masters project on Revisiting Contemporary Female Curatorship took the form of an Applied Research report on women's cinema curation, with a particular focus on Chinese women on screen. 

In February 2023, having met Asian Studies alumnus and cinema owner Carol Rennie at a networking event, she brought her vision to life in the inaugural MINT Chinese Film Festival at the Keswick Alhambra Cinema.

Exploring Scotland’s creative cultural environment

Yixiang was already an emerging film curator when she came to Edinburgh; studying here was a chance to pause and reflect on her work in a transcultural context.

The FEC programme allowed her to expand on curatorial techniques and research methods, and to develop progressive curatorial strategies and expertise in creative entrepreneurship, especially in her final project and the festival it became.

As well as providing a strong academic network across different programmes and subject areas, Yixiang felt that the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) had an ethos of “negotiating cultures inclusively and openly”, an ethos in which she was “immersed” during her time here, and took forward into MINT.

She also speaks of the warmth and collective nature of the FEC programme, the encouragement of the Programme Directors and other teaching staff, and the joy of working with like-minded colleagues to “proactively explore Scotland’s creative cultural environment, and wider national film heritages”.

As a young curator, I may not have all the answers or wisdom to offer, but by embracing my philosophy and taking risks, I've been able to develop a curatorial style that is truly my origin. To all prospective students and aspiring curators, I encourage you to follow your inner drive and creative ideas as you grow your relevant practices. It's okay to be bold and open in your approach, and not let critical voices deter you. Believe in and trust your intuition and keep moving forward.

Yixiang Shirley Lin, MSc in Film, Exhibition and Curation, 2022

Both mediator and artist

Asked what inspires her, Yixiang says “embracing my role as both mediator and artist, committed to curating for underrepresented voices and marginalised groups… all while embarking on my own path of self-discovery, exploring the fluid female subjectivity”.

She is deservedly proud of the inaugural MINT Chinese Film Festival, which she co-founded with Carol Rennie whose PhD at Edinburgh was on Taiwanese women writers. Together, she says, they were able to “showcase the very best of Chinese cinema and the richness of Chinese culture while [making] visible the critical role that women have played both on and off the screen”.

Over three days in February 2023, the Festival welcomed over 250 cinema goers, including staff, students and alumni from Film, Exhibition and Curation, Film Studies and Chinese Studies at Edinburgh. Many visitors attended multiple parts of the packed programme, which incorporated 25 films (both feature and short), panel discussions and cultural events involving musicians, artists, and filmmakers – all designed to mediate cross-cultural communication of Chinese cinema and women's representation in film.

Reflecting on what made MINT a success and her hopes for its future, Yixiang says “I believe [the Festival] is a testament to the power of creative collaboration and the importance of having an inclusive curatorial vision. I hope that this sustainable creative project can be developed as an innovative enterprise in the near future that will not only inspire women and enthusiastic students to pursue their own passions and ambitions but also be able to put the decent pay initiative into action by fundraising, changing the status quo of women in the film industry.”

Read more about Carol's story and her role in the MINT Chinese Film Festival 

The MINT Chinese Film Festival returns to Keswick Alhambra Cinema for its second edition from 1 to 4 February 2024.

Read our feature on the MINT Chinese Film Festival

Are you interested in studying Film, Exhibition and Curation?

Helping you develop an informed, individual and authoritative curatorial voice, our taught Masters programme combines rigorous critical thinking with personal and group experiments in creative practice, deepening your understanding of film and the ways in which it communicates with many audiences. 

Find out more about studying Film, Exhibition and Curation