First-time feature director Cathy Yan is on hand at the Sundance Film Festival with her project, Dead Pigs. The pic is set in modern China, between Shanghai and the provincial town of Jiaxing, and centers on five eccentric people and how their stories intersect over the course of a few weeks as dead pigs float towards Shanghai and ultimately converge in a dramatic showdown between human and machine.

“I had been thinking about making a film back in China… I just felt that there were so many great stories there,” said Yan, a former journalist for the Wall Street Journal.

Speaking at Deadline’s Sundance studio, Yan, who was born in China, said it was her time spent there growing up and as a reporter that inspired the film’s plot.

“Besides just the dead pigs, there are a lot of plot points and experiences are very true to what’s happening in China right now…a lot of what is in the film is inspired by true events and things that I was particularly interested in when I was a reporter.”

On who her journalist skills informed her filmmaking approach, Yan explained how the two mediums intersect. As a reporter “you’re trained well to identify a story and figure out how to best tell it in a way that is engaging to people. That skillset was really useful.”

The film, which stars Atlanta actress Zazie Beetz Vivian Wu, Haoyu Yang, Mason Lee, Meng Li, and David Rysdahl, premiered in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section.

Check out the interview above.

The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.