Experiencing Interruptions?


Juno, a sex robot’s purpose is questioned when her master Erin decides to return her to the company. In order to make Erin change her mind, Juno tries to learn what love is by following Erin’s diary. In this process, she gets closer to the secret Erin hides from her.

  • Yintao Gong
  • Yintao Gong
  • Matt Wayne
    Executive Producer
  • Yunyi Zhu
    Executive Producer
  • Qinyue Luo
  • Alexa Feeney
  • Katie Kay
    Key Cast
  • Lana Maru
    Key Cast
  • Steven Morana
    Supporting Cast
  • Sunny Davis
    Assistant Director
  • Qinyue Luo
  • Bo-Yu Chen
    Director of Photography
  • Bo-Yu Chen
    Steadi-Cam Operator
  • Rita Tsao
    Camera Operator
  • Bo-Yu Chen
    Camera Operator
  • Ben Liu
    1st AC
  • Armando Garcia
    1st AC
  • Justin Wilson
    1st AC
  • Kimberly Moreno Chavez
    2nd AC
  • Xingyu Chen
    2nd AC
  • Emily Furst
  • Xingyu Chen
    BTS photographer
  • Isaac Crane
  • Griffin Voth
    Best Boy
  • Haley Gronski
    Key Grip
  • Christian Chico
  • Shi He
  • Zheng Wu
    Production Designer
  • Emma Morse
    Art Director
  • Yibo Kou
    Art PA
  • McKenzie Kelly
    HMU artist
  • Allison Bailey
    HMU artist
  • Jane Cripe
  • Elijah Matias
    Production Sound
  • Brandon Reiss
    Stunt Coordinator
  • Emma Wakefield
  • Bei Chen
  • Rebecca Zhang
  • Katerina Fedosova
    Location Manager
  • Yintao Gong
  • Christian Blair
    Sound Designer & Mixer
  • Matt Phillips
    SFX editor
  • Henry Zhang
    VFX artist
  • Cheng Lu
  • Chris Sinnemann
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Sci-Fi, Drama
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 40 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 30, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Loyola Marymount University
Director Biography - Yintao Gong

Working as writer, director, and editor, Yintao focuses on storytelling that explores feminist themes, human complexity, and subtle emotions. By weaving elements of fantasy and the impossible into her work, she creates a space where complex themes and experiences can be discussed in a way that is both approachable and profound. Her stop motion animation short “I am” won the young creative awards from the International Academy. The documentary “Hungry Seagull” she participated in screened at the Rome Film Festival and UN Climate Change Conference COP 25. She works actively for diverse projects and her work was accepted into multiple film festivals. Her current project, Upstream, is a Sci-Fi short film about a female sex robot trying to learn what love is. It discusses the shared fate of women and highlights the challenge of defying societal expectations to seek out the true meaning of being themselves.

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Director Statement

When I was a little girl, people told me pink dresses and Barbies were meant for me. I asked: Why? I kept asking the same question when I grew up. Why were boys believed to be better at math? Why was marriage deemed essential? Why were certain jobs off-limits to women? Why were women expected to prioritize family over their careers?

I never really get an answer. Being a woman is like walking against the stream: the world tries to impose its definition on you, so you have to work harder to fight the force and keep being yourself. This is where Upstream was born. A tale about surpassing definitions and finding one’s true self. A story about love, companionship, and humanity.

Upstream is a Sci-Fi short film about a female sex robot trying to learn what love is. The inspiration for this story came from a news report about a 6-year-old girl who was trafficked into a family. The only person who protected her and treated her well was her stepmother, a 11-year- old young girl who also experienced trafficking. It took them years to escape and bring their abuser to justice. I found their relationship truly beautiful as it represents how women can support and help each other in the face of oppression in a patriarchal society.

I choose a sex robot to be the protagonist because she represents a symbol of objectification of women. She is a blank canvas, and the audiences are forced to explore friendship, love and human complexity from her perspective. On the opposite end, we have a woman who seems to be very different from the robot. However, through the journey of confusion, frustration, and ultimately, liberation, we will find they have more similarities than we thought. Although it’s Sci-Fi film, the core of the story is relevant today. It’s about the shared fate of women, about defying societal expectations and stereotypes to seek out the true meaning of being ourselves.

While developing my film, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade removed women's right to abortion. It reinforced my belief that narratives and voices like mine are crucial, as women continue to struggle for control over their bodies and futures. As a female filmmaker, I want to contribute to this type of narrative. Film is beautiful because it helps us understand other individuals better. I hope my film could contribute to this process and make the world a little bit better.