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“I’ll just say, to be totally honest, I would not be at this table if it wasn’t for our small, independent studio,” The Farewell director, Lulu Wang, told the Director Roundtable. “We got an offer at Sundance from A24, and also got a much larger double offer from a large streaming platform.”
“One thing we sometimes don’t talk about with some of these bigger streaming platforms is that it’s a different business model. It’s not necessarily about making money back, it’s about brand. They’re building their brand, and when you’re an established filmmaker, you are a brand that they want to partner with to help build their own brand, but with newer filmmakers, newer voices, you don’t have a brand, you need to build that brand,” Wang continued.
“For a film that’s 75-80 percent in Mandarin subtitled, 100 percent Asian, Asian-American cast, to be seen as an American story and play in theaters for four months, and then for me to be at this table, I know for a fact that if I took that the bigger money, that they wouldn’t have the energy to put behind someone like me, to build my brand.”
As one of two female directors on the roundtable, and with zero women with directing nominations for this year’s Golden Globes, Wang still spoke with optimism about the changing landscape for female directors in Hollywood. “I mean, what’s Hollywood, right?” Wang asked. “It’s different filmmakers. If you have women tell our own stories, then it’s changing, because it’s our perspective.”
“People always ask, ‘What does it feel like to be a female director?’ I’ve never been anything else in my life. I can’t compare the two.”
The Farewell is nominated for best foreign language film at the Golden Globes. Lead actress Awkwafina also earned a nomination for her work in the film.
Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Fernando Meirelles (The Two Popes), Lulu Wang (The Farewell) and Todd Phillips (Joker) joined for the annual Director Roundtable. The full roundtable is set to air Jan. 5 on SundanceTV. Follow all the Oscar-season roundtables at THR.com/Roundtables.
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