The screening and afterparty will be held at The Theatre at Ace Hotel DTLA as Sundance Institute’s summer fundraiser event. Tickets are on sale now with proceeds going to the organization’s programs “that discover, support and amplify risk-taking and exciting independent artists across film, theatre and media.”
Wang wrote and directed “The Farewell,” about a Chinese American woman named Billi (“Crazy Rich Asians” and “Oceans 8” breakout Awkwafina) whose family travels to China to visit her beloved grandmother, affectionately dubbed Nai-Nai, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
The twist: Nai-Nai has been kept in the dark about her own diagnosis. Billi, her parents and their extended relatives gather under the pretense of a wedding to say their goodbyes without revealing the truth to the family matriarch. Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen, Lu Hong, Jiang Yongbo and a scene-stealing dog named Ellen also star.
At times emotional and hilarious, “The Farewell” is inspired by Wang’s own experience and made its world premiere in U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It screened earlier this month as a special presentation at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
Attendees would be well advised to bring tissues for the film, which hits theaters July 12 via distributor A24.
“We’re excited to celebrate the power of Lulu's artistic vision in writing and directing ‘The Farewell,’” Michelle Satter, founding director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program said in a statement.
Previous recipients of the Vanguard Award include Alejandro Gonzàlez Iñàrritu, Glenn Close, Dee Rees, Marielle Heller, Damien Chazelle, Ryan Coogler and Boots Riley.
In previous years the Vanguard Award was given out during Sundance’s Next Fest, a summer festival fusing film and music held in Los Angeles. After going on hiatus last year, Next Fest remains on hold.
Since premiering in January, Wang and her film have captured hearts and garnered early Oscar buzz. Reviewing the film out of Park City, Times critic Justin Chang called it “funny, moving [and] sensitively wrought.” Strangers at Sundance kept coming up to Wang with tears in their eyes, an oft-repeated occurance throughout “The Farewell’s” festival run.