Lulu Wang, director and writer of “The Farewell,” talked about the challenges she faced before she was finally able to bring her movie to theaters during the Variety Screening Series presented by Vudu. The story, based on Wang’s own experiences, follows a Chinese American family dealing with the terminal cancer diagnosis of their grandmother.
“When this happened to me in 2013, I started pitching and tried to set it up as a film, but nobody wanted to make an American movie that was 80% Chinese — shocking — and subtitled and all cast with Asians or Asian Americans,” Wang said.
Her tale was then picked up as a radio story titled “What You Don’t Know” on an episode of NPR’s “This American Life.”
“I set it aside for a while and while I was on a festival circuit with a short film I had made, a producer from ‘This American Life’ approached me and said, ‘Do you have any other stories you want to tell that Hollywood is not letting you tell?'” she explained. “I said, ‘As a matter of fact, there’s a story I want to tell that’s about my grandmother.’ It got set up at ‘This American Life’ and 48 hours after it aired, producers everywhere started calling wanting to make it into a film.”