The Farewell

September 29, 2020 Members’ Choice 8:30pm

In 2013, Chinese-American director Lulu Wang was told that her grandmother (‘Nai Nai’ in Chinese) had Stage 4 lung cancer with three months to live. The family decided not to tell Nai Nai of the diagnosis and devised a ruse — a fast-tracked wedding in her hometown Changchun —for everyone to see her one last time.

Wang thought the situation, with its mix of bittersweet drama and comic absurdity, was great material for a film, but nobody wanted to make it. With its all-Asian cast, it was considered too Chinese for the American market. “And when I pitched it to Chinese producers, they were like, ‘Why is this dramatic? Everybody in China does this.’”

Billed as “based on an actual lie,” the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it garnered rave reviews for both Wang’s directing and the performance of Nora Lum, aka the rapper Awkwafina (whose autobiographical comedy series Awkwafina is Nora from Queens is currently on BBC iPlayer.)

Although Wang filmed on location and enlisted her grandmother’s sister Hong Lu to play herself, Nai Nai never actually knew what the film was about. Wang remains unsure how she feels about the lie. “I don’t know what’s right. I do know that the lie has allowed me to spend three months in China with my grandmother. It’s allowed me to have all of these experiences with my family that I would not have had otherwise. But on an ethical level, I’m still torn.”

…an exquisite study in the depiction of profoundly held, yet rarely expressed feelings …” Kevin
Maher, The Times

‘A funny, emotionally intricate and deeply moving tale of severed connections and renewed family ties’. Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

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Film Information
Release year: 2019
Running time:   100 mins
Directed by: Lulu Wang
Language: English, Mandarin
Country: USA
Classification: PG
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Starring: Shuzhen Zhao,
X Mayo
More info:

Rotten Tomatoes
WFC Audience Score:  83%

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