Filmmaker Lulu Wang talks laughing through the tears

When Lulu Wang’s The Farewell premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in January, the praise was near-unanimous. A tragicomic drama rooted in its writer-director’s own real-life experiences, it begins with the words: “Based on an actual lie.”

The film sees a young Chinese-American woman, Billi (Awkwafina), return to China when her beloved grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao), is given a terminal diagnosis. There, she struggles with her family’s decision to keep Grandma in the dark about what’s happening, while they promptly schedule a wedding for Billi’s cousin – so that everyone can be together one final time before Nai Nai’s imminent deterioration.

While keeping loved ones unaware of their serious illnesses is apparently common practice in China, doing so presents difficulties for Billi when it comes to making sense of her grief. Although born in China, she moved to the United States with her parents when she was still very young; with this ‘lie’, the cultural divide is laid bare…

Full interview for HUCK

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