Eris Qian

Last Ship East (Narrative)


Eris Qian

The Day of Passover, 1940. Onboard an ocean liner from Europe to Shanghai, Jewish girl Hannah makes friends with a Japanese diplomat’s daughter, Emiko, and exchanges her family’s Kiddush Cup for Emiko’s toy kendama. Unaware of the looming Axis formation, Hannah finds their family’s cabin ransacked by a Nazi officer joined with Japanese soldiers, due to Emiko’s betrayal. Later at Seder, how will Hannah find the answers about the Redemption?

About the Director

Eris Qian is a writer/director/producer based in New York City and considers herself a global nomad. Born and raised in China, she has lived, studied, and made documentaries in five continents. She leverages her diasporic experience to tell stories about characters who defy the norms in finding their place in the world, drawing parallels in human experiences across different cultures. Eris’s debut short film Mother Tongue premiered at CAAMFest, the world’s biggest Asian American film festival, and screened at eleven other prestigious festivals. She is a Sundance x WIF Financing Strategy Intensive Fellow for her feature project Pulling Seedlings, which is also a finalist of the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship and the Sloan Feature Film Award. Her producing work was seen at festivals including Aspen, Palm Springs, and the DGA Student Award. As a natural multi-hyphenate, Eris holds MBA/MFA dual degrees from NYU’s Stern and Tisch.

Director’s Statement

My home city Shanghai provided sanctuary to 23,000 Jewish refugees expelled by Nazi Germany, as well as my grandmother, who traveled across the country to escape the Nanjing Massacre at six years old. As a descendent of war survivors, I was struck by the collective trauma across cultures when I stood in front of a trench comprised of victims’ shoes in the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem – this is not only the experience of one people, but a universal theme of pain, struggle, and survival.

Looking back at the atrocities of the Holocaust and the Rape of Nanjing, it is not only important to commemorate them as part of how we learn from history and honor the victims, but also to study them to find connections between communities, helping to build solidarity across borders and cultures, especially now that antisemitism and anti-Asian hate have been unfortunately rising. 

From my perspective as part of the Asian diaspora, the Jewish emigration from Europe to Asia appears an epic journey symbolizing hope, perseverance, and the eternal pursuit of a sense of belonging. And I see significant connections between those of Jewish migrants and my grandmother’s experience. I hope that through a little Jewish girl’s perspective, Last Ship East could draw parallels in the human experiences and tell a story that unites people that cherish friendship, heritage, and peace.