Lilting (film)

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Lilting poster.jpg
Sundance film poster
Directed by Hong Khaou
Produced by Dominic Buchanan
Written by Hong Khaou
Starring Ben Whishaw
Cheng Pei-pei
Andrew Leung
Morven Christie
Naomi Christie
Peter Bowles
Cinematography Urszula Pontikos
Film London Microwave
BBC Films
Release date(s)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £120,000

Lilting is a 2014 British drama film written and directed by Cambodian-born British director Hong Khaou, whose short film, Spring, was selected for Sundance and Berlinale film festival 2011.[1] It is produced by Dominic Buchanan, whose debut film Gimme The Loot had its World Premiere at SXSW in March 2012 and went on to win the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature.[2] The film had its world premiere on January 16, 2014, on Day One of the Sundance Film Festival, at which it compete in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.[3] It won the Cinematography Award: World Cinema Dramatic at the festival.[4][5]


Lilting tells the story of a mother’s attempt at understanding who her son is after his untimely death. Her world is suddenly disrupted by the presence of his lover. Together, they attempt to overcome their grief whilst struggling against not having a shared language.[6]



The script, original titled Lilting the Past, won third spot in the 2011 Brit List, a list of the best unproduced British screenplays.[7]

The film was one of three films greenlit by Microwave in early 2012.[8][9] A casting call was later released for the three of the lead roles,[10] later filled by Cheng Pei-pei and Andrew Leung.

Filming began in November 2012.[11] Director Khaou has said the film will be visually inspired by Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love.[12]

During production, as part of the Microwave scheme, Michael Winterbottom mentored writer/director Khaou, while producer Buchanan was mentored by Ken Marshall, producer of London to Brighton, Filth and Song for Marion. As with all Microwave films, the budget was £120,000.[13] It is the first bi-lingual film to be made under the Microwave scheme.[14]


Lilting won the Cinematography Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Critical response[edit]

Lilting was met with positive reviews from critics after its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 83% of 6 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.3 out of 10.[15]

Justin Chang, in his review for Variety, said that the film "Hong Khaou makes a fine debut with this quietly resonant cross-cultural chamber piece."[16] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film, saying, "Delicate and unhurried almost to a fault, though also hauntingly sexy and even humorous at times."[17] Amber Wilkinson from Telegraph gave the film three out of five stars and praised the lead actor that "Whishaw is magnetic as a man pushed to the edge of fragility by mourning, but who still suggests a quiet strength."[18] Dominic Mill of We Got This Covered gave a positive review and said, "The subject matter is powerful, and the performances are wonderful - in a world of big and showy dramatism, Lilting gets its point across without feeling the need to shout about it."[19]


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2014 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Hong Khaou Nominated
Cinematography Award: World Cinema Dramatic Urszula Pontikos Won


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  4. ^ "Sundance: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Awards; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For ‘Fishing Without Nets’". Retrieved January 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ "'Whiplash' Owns the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Awards Netting Two Top Prizes". Retrieved January 26, 2014. 
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  15. ^ "Lilting (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Sundance Film Review: ‘Lilting’". Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Lilting: Sundance Review". Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Sundance 2014: Lilting, review". Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Lilting Review [LLGBT 2014]". Retrieved January 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]