Lulu Wang (filmmaker)
Wang in 2015
|Born||February 25, 1983|
|Education||New World School of the Arts|
|Alma mater||Boston College|
|Home town||Miami, Florida, U.S.|
Lulu Wang (Chinese: 王子逸; pinyin: Wáng Zǐyì; born February 25, 1983) is a Chinese-American film director, writer, and producer. She is best known for writing and directing Posthumous (2014) and The Farewell (2019). She has also written, produced and directed several short films, documentaries, and music videos. She splits her time between New York and LA.
Wang was born in Beijing, China. Her father Haiyan Wang was a Chinese diplomat for the USSR and her mother Jian Yu is a former cultural critic and editor at the Beijing Literary Gazette. She has a younger brother, Anthony. Wang spent her early years in Beijing with her parents and briefly lived with her paternal grandmother for a year in Changchun, Northeast China, before emigrating to Miami, Florida at age 6 because her father was pursuing a PhD at the University of Miami. She is a classically trained pianist, starting lessons at age four and attending the New World School of the Arts. Her parents encouraged her to become a professional pianist and Wang's mother took her to a local church in Miami every day to practice before they were able to buy a piano for her. Wang ultimately decided against a career in music when she was at college.
Wang studied music and literature at Boston College from 2001 and graduated in 2005 with a double major. In her senior year at college, Wang watched Steven Shainberg's 2002 film Secretary which she says inspired her to become a filmmaker. She then took two film production courses and made several short films while still at college.
2005-2007: First steps
In 2005, while still a student, Wang received the Best Beginning Film Award at the Boston College Baldwin Awards for Storyteller, which she made together with fellow BC student Tony Hale. They went on to win the Baldwin Award for Best Picture for the short film Pisces at the Boston College Baldwin Film Festival the following year. Wang and Hale also collaborated on the 2006 documentary short, Fishing the Gulf, on over-fishing in Panama. Her next project was the 2007 short film Can-Can, based on a short story by Arturo Vivante about marriage and infidelity.
2008–2015: Start in entertainment
In 2008, shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Wang was interning for a producer alongside Bernadette Bürgi. After a trip to IKEA, the two got the idea to make a film together from their mutual affection for storytelling and romantic comedies. From this trip, Wang and Bürgi set up their own production company Flying Box Productions and Wang directed multiple web shorts and music videos, as well as her first feature film, Posthumous, in 2014. Set in Berlin, Germany, Posthumous is an American-German co-production starring Brit Marling and Jack Huston. The film debuted at the Zurich Film Festival on 4 October 2014. It also played in the U.S. at the Miami International Film Festival and has been released worldwide.
In 2014, Wang was awarded the Chaz and Roger Ebert Directing Fellowship at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. The same year, she was chosen as a Film Independent Project Involve Directing Fellow. Wang's 2015 short film Touch premiered at the Palm Springs International ShortsFest. It was also an NBCU Short Film Festival finalist, was selected by the American Cinematheque for its Annual Focus on Female Directors, and won Best Drama at the Asians on Film Festival.
2016–2019: The Farewell
In May 2016, Wang wrote and narrated a story for the radio program This American Life. Later that year, development began on a feature film based on the story with producer Chris Weitz who had heard it on the radio. In 2017, Wang was chosen to participate in Sundance Institute’s FilmTwo Initiative, which provides guidance for filmmakers creating their second feature films.
In January 2019, Wang's second feature film, The Farewell, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was picked up for worldwide distribution by A24. The film follows struggling New York City artist Billi (played by Awkwafina (Nora Lum) in her first dramatic role), who travels to China for a family reunion to visit her dying grandmother. The family has decided to keep the truth about her condition a secret from Nai Nai (Mandarin for "grandmother") and sets up a wedding as a pretense for their reunion. Wang based the film on her own grandmother's illness, which also included her family setting up a wedding as a pretense. In fact, the film opens with a title card stating Based on an actual lie. The film is presented for the most part in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles. It was filmed in the neighborhood where Wang's grandmother lived and Wang cast her actual great aunt Lu Hong to play herself in the film. After its Sundance premiere, numerous publications listed The Farewell as a standout at the festival, including Variety, Thrillist, and Rolling Stone. In an IndieWire critics survey published after the festival, The Farewell was voted Best Film and Best Screenplay and Wang was voted Best Director. The film holds a 99% Critics Consensus rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 207 reviews.
In January 2019, Variety named Wang one of ten "Directors to Watch." In an interview with the publication, she described her next project as "very grounded science fiction."
The Farewell opened in limited release in four US theaters on July 12, 2019. The film opened to a gross of $351,330, averaging $87,833 per theater, surpassing the average of Avengers: Endgame which averaged $76,601 in 4,662 theaters for a gross of $357,115,007 on its opening weekend.The Farewell was released nationwide in the US on August 2, 2019.
On December 4, 2019, the American Film Institute announced that The Farewell was one of that year's ten recipients of the 2019 AFI Awards for "films that are culturally and artistically representative" of 2019's "most significant achievements in the art of the moving image." For her role as Billi, Awkwafina was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy on January 5, 2020. The Farewell won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature at the 35th Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California on February 8, 2020.
2020–present: Future projects
|2005||Pisces||Producer, Director, Writer||Short|
|2006||Fishing the Gulf||Director||Documentary short|
|2007||Can-Can||Producer, Director, Writer||Short Film|
|2011||"Nobody Told Me" - Vintage Trouble||Director||Music Video|
|2011||Burke and Herb||Director||Web Series|
|2014||Posthumous||Director, Writer||Feature Film |
Feature directorial debut
|2014||"Still and Always Will" - Vintage Trouble||Director||Music Video|
|2015||Touch||Director, Writer||Short Film|
|2019||The Farewell||Producer, Director, Writer||Feature Film|
|2020||The Expatriates||Producer, Director, Writer||Web Series|
Awards and Nominations
|2020||British Academy Film Awards||Best Film Not in the English Language||The Farewell||Nominated|||
|2020||Golden Globe Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||Nominated|
|2020||Independent Spirit Awards||Best Feature||Won|
|2019||American Film Institute||Top 10 Films||Won|
|2019||Sundance Film Festival||Grand Prize Jury||Nominated|
|2019||Palm Springs International Film Festival||Directors to Watch||Won|
|2019||Gotham Awards||Best Feature||Nominated|
|2019||Broadcast Film Critics Association||Best Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Chicago Film Critics Association Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Columbus Film Critics Association Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Denver Film Critics Society Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Florida Film Critics Circle Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|Pauline Kael Breakout Award||Nominated|
|2019||Georgia Film Critics Association Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Hollywood Critics Association Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Houston Film Critics Society Award||Best Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Satellite Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||North Carolina Film Critics Association Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||North Texas Film Critics Association Award||Best Director||Nominated|
|2019||Online Association of Female Film Critics Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|2019||San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Award||Best Original Screeenplay||Nominated|
|2019||Seattle Film Critics Society Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nominated|
|Best Foreign Language Film||Nominated|
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