Lilting (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byHong Khaou
Written byHong Khaou
Produced byDominic Buchanan
CinematographyUrszula Pontikos
Edited byMark Towns
Music byStuart Earl
Distributed byArtificial Eye
Release dates
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$247,377[1]

Lilting (Chinese: 轻轻摇晃; pinyin: Qīngqīng yáohuàng) is a 2014 British romantic drama film written and directed by Cambodian-born British director Hong Khaou[2] and produced by Dominic Buchanan.[3]

The film had its world premiere on 16 January 2014 on Day One of the Sundance Film Festival, at which it competed in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.[4] It won the "Cinematography Award: World Cinema Dramatic" at the festival.[5][6] The film was released theatrically in United Kingdom on 8 August 2014[7][8] and in the United States on 26 September 2014.[9]


Lilting tells the story of a mother's attempt at understanding who her son was 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.[10]



The script, originally titled Lilting the Past, won third spot in the 2011 Brit List, a list of the best unproduced British screenplays.[11]

The film was one of three films greenlit by Microwave in early 2012.[12][13] A casting call was later released for the three lead roles,[14] later filled by Cheng Pei-pei, Ben Whishaw, and Andrew Leung.

Filming began in November 2012 [15] and completed principal photography in December 2012.[16] Director Khaou has said the film will be visually inspired by Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love.[17]

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.[18] It is the first bilingual film to be made under the Microwave scheme.[19]


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

Critical response[edit]

Lilting was met with positive reviews from critics. As of June 2020, the film holds an 84% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 55 reviews with an average rating of 6.88/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Skillfully weaving multiple delicate tonal strands into a quietly affecting whole, Lilting serves as a thoroughly compelling calling card for writer-director Hong Khaou."[20] On Metacritic the film has 61 rating from 22 reviews indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]

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."[22] 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."[23] 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."[24] 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."[25]


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
2015 26th GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Film - Limited Release Hong Khaou Won
2016 Apolo Awards[26][27] Best Cinematography Urszula Pontikos Nominated
Best New Director Hong Khaou Won
Best Actress Cheng Pei-pei Nominated


  1. ^ "Lilting (2014) – International Box Office Results – Box Office Mojo".
  2. ^ "Microwave – Get Inspired – Lilting – Cast and Crew – Crew – Writer/Director – Hong Khaou".
  3. ^ "Microwave – Get Inspired – Lilting – Cast and Crew – Crew – Producer – Dominic Buchanan".
  4. ^ "Sundance Institute Announces Films in U.S. and World Competitions, NEXT for 2014 Sundance Film Festival – Sundance Film Festival". Archived from the original on 5 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Sundance: 'Whiplash' & 'Rich Hill' Win Grand Jury Awards; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For 'Fishing Without Nets'". 26 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  6. ^ "'Whiplash' Owns the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Awards Netting Two Top Prizes". 26 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Lilting UK release date". Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Lilting BBC UK". Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Lilting". Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Tony Grisoni's Kingsland amongst new Microwave projects".
  11. ^ "'Call Up' tops Brit List". Variety. 9 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Microwave heats up three pics". Variety.
  13. ^ "Hong Khaou's LILTING announced among new Microwave projects – United Agents".
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ [dead link]
  16. ^ "Film London - News". Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  17. ^ "Microwave – Get Inspired – Lilting – Directors Vision".
  18. ^ "Microwave's Lilting, starring Ben Whishaw, underway in London".
  19. ^ "Ben Whishaw goes from Skyfall Q to budget film". The Evening Standard. 10 December 2012.
  20. ^ "Lilting (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  21. ^ "Lilting". Retrieved 29 June 2020 – via
  22. ^ "Sundance Film Review: 'Lilting'". 17 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  23. ^ "Lilting: Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  24. ^ "Sundance 2014: Lilting, review". Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  25. ^ "Lilting Review [LLGBT 2014]". Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  26. ^ "Las mejores películas de temática LGTB del 2015: ganadores de los I Premios Apolo de cine LGTB". dosmanzanas (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  27. ^ "Las mejores películas de temática LGTB del 2015: nominaciones de los I Premios Apolo de cine LGTB". dosmanzanas (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 January 2022.

External links[edit]