Acclaimed director Wayne Wang’s (The Joy Luck Club, Chan Is Missing) moving new film is Coming Home Again. It is based on a personal essay by award-winning Korean American writer Chang-rae Lee published in The New Yorker.
This is an emotional, intimate family drama about a mother, a son, and the burden of family expectations. It world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 and now begins its theatrical premiere run and VOD on October 23rd.
The film’s main character, also named Chang-rae (Justin Chon), a first generation Korean-American. He returns to his family home in San Francisco to care for his ailing mother (Jackie Chung). Wanting nothing more than to fulfill his role as the supportive son, he must come to terms with his own conflicted emotions.
The film takes place over the course of one full day during which Chang-rae attempts to prepare a traditional Korean New Year’s Eve dinner; like the one his mother always cooked for the family. The care and precision that goes into preparing this meal gives him time to reflect on the intense relationship between them. Memories become a doorway into a woman who was so much more than the mother he thought he knew. Now, Chang-rae is faced with the dilemma of living with the permanent scars of unresolved family sacrifice. He also makes the risk of opening new wounds as cancer shadows their lives.
Wayne Wang acknowledges the influences of iconic filmmakers Yasujirō Ozu, Chantal Akerman and Michael Haneke. But Coming Home Again is all Wayne Wang. He continues to authentically pioneer exploring the lives of Asian-Americans and of women on screen today. Wang is perhaps one of the most innovative and diverse filmmakers working today.
Born in Hong Kong, but because his father loved American movies, he named his son after his favorite actor, John Wayne. Wang inherited his father’s love of film and traveled to the States. There, he went to study film and television at California’s College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Wang returned to his homeland after graduation to gain experience working in television and film. Then, back in the States, he settled in the San Francisco area. He also obtained grants from the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. He used the endowment to direct, produce and co-write his first feature, Chan Is Missing (1982), set in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Wang really became recognized with the critics and the movie going public with The Joy Luck Club (1993). It’s based on the best-selling novel by Amy Tan. He went on to make Smoke (1995), Blue in the Face, Chinese Box (1997). He returned to mainstream films with Anywhere But Here (1999), starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman.
From there he went to The Center of the World (2001) with Canada’s own Molly Parker. He switched gears for his next flick, Maid in Manhattan (2002), directing Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes. Maid is the Cinderella-like story of a wealthy man who falls for a hotel maid thinking she’s a socialite. He also tackled a sweet family film Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), and Last Holiday (2006) starring Queen Latifah.
Bonnie Laufer spoke with Wayne Wang for is home in San Francisco about why he chose to make this film. He talked about how it resonated with him on a personal level, how he decides on what he will direct and much more!