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San Diego Asian Film Festival Presents: Saving Face
November 16 @ 4:30 pm - November 16 @ 6:00 pm
The 20th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival presents: Saving Face (2004)
Saving Face is the unlikely Chinese American, lesbian rom-com crossover success no one saw coming. In 2004, any one of these bullet points might have spelled disaster. And yet somehow, Alice Wu’s first film survived intact–from a script written while a software engineer, to landing Will Smith as a producer, refusing Hollywood pressure for white leads, playing Sundance, and receiving distribution, an embrace by Best Lesbian Films lists, and a top shelf award from Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards. And now, watching SAVING FACE more than 15 years later, freed from all the burdens of representation as a “first” of any kind, Alice Wu’s film can just be itself–an utterly hilarious and tender mother-daughter comedy, with squirming, sexing, and loving from some of Asian America’s best actors.
Wil (Michelle Krusiec) is a closeted lesbian with a scandal on her hands and in her New York living room: her mother. Joan Chen (Twin Peaks, The Last Emperor) in one of the best story arcs of her career, plays Wil’s 48-year-old pregnant mother, disowned and banished from Flushing (the horror!), and now redecorating Wil’s apartment to the tea-sipping glee of Chinese gossips. The new roommates have secrets aplenty as awkward surgeon Wil hides her deepening romance with ballerina Vivian (Lynn Chen), and her mother refuses to name her lover, forcing a comical husband hunt to make her respectable again. As a wedding looms, her mom’s spectacularly public mistakes compete with Wil’s inability to be anything but privately in love, forcing the most unexpected of outcomes.
Wu gives us a multivocal Chinese America, poking fun at an insular Flushing crowd and Wil’s mother’s racism, while also showing a spectrum of attitudes toward the film’s lesbian characters, Chinese traditions, and aging women. SAVING FACE is the rare gem that sparkles as delightfully today as it did so long ago.
About The San Diego Asian Film Festival: The San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) is the most comprehensive portrait of Asian and Asian American cinema in North America. The 20th SDAFF is scheduled for November 7-16, 2019, and will showcase over 170 independent and foreign films from 29 countries at eight different venues across San Diego County. The 10-day festival draws over 15,000 attendees for screenings, Q&As, youth programs, and the star-studded red carpet Awards Gala. For more information, visit sdaff.org.
About Pacific Arts Movement: Pacific Arts Movement (Pac Arts) launched in 2000 when it debuted the San Diego Asian Film Festival, a showcase of Asian American and Asian international cinema. Rooted in the love of film and the arts, global citizenship, and Asian culture and communities, Pac Arts became an official nonprofit media arts organization in 2002, and is now one of the most significant exhibitions of Asian cinema in North America. Pac Arts presents two major annual events: The Spring Showcase (April) and the San Diego Asian Film Festival (November), which bring awareness to, and educate the public about, Pan Asian cinema and media issues throughout the year.
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