Tag Archives: This American Life

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

Crown Heights (Matt Ruskin, 2017)

Adapted, by writer-director Matt Ruskin from an episode of public radio show This American Life, Crown Heights acts as both biopic of one man wrongfully incarcerated for over 20 years and a broader examination of the American justice system and its bias towards imprisoning people of colour. The latter most notably comes about through the insertion of stock footage contextualising the US government’s crime policy developments during the course of the decades the film covers – we see clips of Ronald Reagan declaring that “crime today is an American epidemic”, Bill Clinton signing his 1994 Crime Bill into law, and New York Governor George Pataki delivering an inaugural address that proposed abolishing parole for felons with a history of violence…

Full review for VODzilla.co