Skip to main content

INDEPENDENT LENS: I Am Another You

Airs Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Portrait of Dylan Olsen, the subject of “I Am Another You.”

Credit: Courtesy of Nanfu Wang

Above: Portrait of Dylan Olsen, the subject of “I Am Another You.”

Filmmaker Nanfu Wang Explores the Meaning of Personal Freedom Through the Eyes of a Young American Drifter

When 20-something Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang first came to America in 2011, Florida seemed like an exotic frontier full of theme parks, prehistoric swamp creatures, and sunburned denizens.

Staying at a hostel on a break from her studies at New York University, she encounters Dylan, a blonde, charismatic, 22-year-old drifter who has left a comfortable home and loving family in Utah for a life of intentional homelessness and unfettered adventure.

Fascinated by his choice and rejection of society's rules, Nanfu follows Dylan with her camera, living with him on the streets.

But what begins as a portrait of a uniquely American quest for freedom is soon upended, unfolding instead as a haunting and unforgettable story of family, illness, and love.

“I Am Another You” premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS Monday, Jan. 29, 2018.

I Am Another You - Trailer

When traveling in Florida, Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang encountered Dylan, a charismatic young drifter who left a comfortable home and loving family for a life of intentional homelessness. Fascinated by his choice and rejection of society's rules, Nanfu follows Dylan on a journey that takes her across America and explores the meaning and limits of freedom.

“When I first met Dylan he seemed like a symbol for free America,” said Wang. “But the longer I spent observing how he used his freedom, my feelings changed.”

Told in three chapters, “I Am Another You” begins with Wang’s unorthodox decision to accompany Dylan as he goes about his daily life – even if that means sleeping on the streets and eating out of garbage cans.

Sympathetic strangers offer them beds, food, and cash, but Wang is soon unsettled by Dylan’s cavalier way with this charity; when he throws away a bag of bagels presented to them by a kind shopkeeper, she packs up and heads home.

I Am Another You - A Kind of Freedom, with Stranger

In this excerpt from the INDEPENDENT LENS film "I Am Another You," filmmaker Nanfu Wang and Dylan, a homeless drifter she's only recently met, ride with a new friend who generously takes them into his home and out to dinner. There Nanfu chats with a woman from her native China about the film she is making and reveals her family back home doesn't know she's living on the streets with a stranger.

The story continues a few years later when Wang is in Utah working on another film.

Deciding to pick up Dylan’s trail, she finds his father and siblings — each in their own way as extraordinary as Dylan.

As their story unfolds, Wang’s initial tale of a carefree drifter becomes something much more unexpected.

“Nanfu Wang is a storyteller we need to keep an eye on,” said Lois Vossen, INDEPENDENT LENS executive producer. “She follows her curiosity wherever it takes her and in this film it took her from living on the streets of Florida to playing detective with a real-life Utah detective. ‘I Am Another You’ seamlessly shows us how delicate are the ties that bind us to our family, and puts a new face on the millions of people living on the streets across America.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Nanfu Wang

Dylan Olsen and filmmaker Nanfu Wang.

AWARDS:

SXSW Special - Jury Award for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling

Ashland Film Festival - Special Jury Mention

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

This film will be available to stream on demand for a limited time after broadcast.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLensPBS.

"I Am Another You" is on Facebook, and you can follow @iaayfilm on Twitter. #IAmAnotherYou

CREDITS:

Nanfu Wang (Director/Producer/DP) is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York City. Producer is Lori Cheatle. Co-Producer/Camera/Co-Editor is Michael Shade. Creative Consultant is Peter Lucas. Lois Vossen is executive producer for INDEPENDENT LENS.

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.