Roland Dahwen Wu was born in Vermont, United States. He grew up in a remote coastal town in northern California and studied at Reed College.

He made his first documentary at the age of 20, entitled THERE ARE NO BIRDS IN THE NESTS OF YESTERDAY (YA NO HAY PÁJAROS EN LOS NIDOS DE AYER, 2010), on el silbo gomero, the whistled language of the Canary Islands. Since then he has worked in documentaries, video installations, translation, and photography. He is the founder of Patuá Films.

His films and video installations have shown at Portland Art Museum, CalArts, Time Based Art (T:BA) Festival, and numerous galleries.