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Hollywood's great Chinese story

By Hong Xiao in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-04 10:23

Best-selling handicap

Devoid of such a best-selling original story, The Farewell had to struggle for finances. It was only after it was officially released that help poured in. Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu bought out a theater in Toronto, so that fans could support The Farewell. It all started with the #GoldOpen movement when numerous Asian American celebrities and groups bought out theaters in support of Crazy Rich Asians.

Earlier this year, Liu was cast as Marvel's first Asian superhero Shang-Chi in the upcoming movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).

"The reason that films like The Farewell (and yes, Shang Chi) are so important to me are because they speak to the differences between Eastern and Western raised Asians," Liu wrote in an Instagram post.

Born in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, in 1989, Liu immigrated to Canada at the age of five.

"It is my genuine hope that these movies will bring us closer by opening a dialogue through which we can share culture with each other, and with the whole world," Liu wrote. He further said that while he was proud of his heritage, he felt "very out of touch" with developments within China and could not speak of the experiences of "my brothers and sisters" across the ocean. "In turn, I feel that it's probably true that many native Chinese have difficulty understanding the struggles of identity and belonging that defined my formative years in Canada," he wrote.

The upcoming film, Liu said, will hold special "significance to both West and East-raised Asians" and he looked forward to exploring more of his own roots.

The film has resonated well with a large number of Chinese audiences and insiders believe in future original Chinese stories will find more opportunities in the US.

If Crazy Rich Asians is considered a milestone for Chinese commercial films in Hollywood, then The Farewell is a milestone for Chinese-independent films in Hollywood.

The Farewell made a loud announcement to the Western film industry that Chinese-American audiences have complex humanities and diverse cultural needs. What they need is not only a superhero of the same skin color, but also more mortal stories about people of the same skin color.

"What we have right now that we didn't have 25 years ago is not only a new generation of young Asian men and women, but also the community from instant global connections," Chinese American actor James Chen wrote in an email to China Daily.

Chen played the recurring character Adrian Sung in the crime series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the character Kal in AMC's The Walking Dead since the sixth season. He said there is definitely a positive upward trend in the number and quality of roles for Asians, "who have been notoriously underrepresented in American TV and film". But "it's just the beginning, there is more work to be done", he wrote.

In an interview to San Francisco Chronicle, Lulu Wang said she knows the film will be a meaningful and emotional experience for Chinese Americans viewers. But it can also be the same for everyone else. "I hope that the rest of the world is able to see universality through our stories," she says. "I hope that a white guy in Middle America will watch it and see his own relationship with his own grandmother in Billi's relationship with her grandma."

xiaohong@chinadailyusa.com

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