The Farewell writer-director Lulu Wang on the joys of laughing at human nature

Filmmaker Lulu Wang says she knew years ago that she wanted to turn a specific personal experience of hers into a film: when her grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the family decided it was better not to tell her, out of a cultural belief that fear of death is more dangerous to ailing people than their actual symptoms. The problem was that when Wang talked to producers, they wanted to rewrite her personal story to be more pat and predictable. “‘We love that idea, but can you make it different?’… I very quickly saw that it was deviating from the story I wanted to tell,” Wang told an audience at the Chicago Film Critics Festival earlier this year.

And then she met a producer for This American Life who took an interest in her…

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