My goal is, no matter what genre or story, I'll find a personal angle. It doesn't have to be autobiographical, or specifically Asian-American. It has to explore a burning question that I have.
I grew up in Beijing and Beijing roast duck is my favorite. My mom makes it every year for Christmas Eve. How crispy the skin is is how good a duck restaurant is.
My grandma, Nai Nai, has had the clothes she wants to be buried prepared since she was like 60. I guess there is an openness to discussing. It's part of life. It's part of the every day.
In China there is a holiday around the death of your ancestors where everyone goes to the cemetery. It's a celebratory thing. It's very colorful.
My brother is working to change the perception of Chinese food in America.
But when you're grieving, when you're going through something difficult, you lose your appetite. You don't want to eat. People are also always commenting on your weight, while at the same time forcing you to eat, so it's very complicated.
My mother always wanted to play an instrument. Her parents never gave her that. Then it got to a point where I'd been playing for 18 years, and to give it up would make me feel guilty. But my parents also knew that realistically, I wasn't going to become a concert pianist.
In America especially, if you're Chinese and you work at a restaurant, there's a certain connotation among the Chinese immigrant community: It's the first generation that opens restaurants as a way to survive. You open to support your family so your kids can become doctors and lawyers.
For a while I had a little company and made corporate videos, did some little documentaries, almost, for court cases and mediations.
I don't think there's ever an inappropriate time to laugh! I'm a curious person. So if someone laughs, I want to know why.
We all have different aspects of ourselves, and who we are to different people in our lives, at different stages of our lives.
My father's a diplomat. He speaks Russian.
And that is something I've heard from many people who immigrate is that when they go back to their home countries, in a way, they think they're going to be embraced and completely feel like they've come home. This disconcerting thing is when you go back there and you feel more foreign than you ever have.
But you just don't know where any film is going to go, or how it's going to end up. Films so often don't get the love and attention needed to get to the right festival, or find the right distributor, or get seen by the world.
That's what I love - on 'The Farewell,' we played with a lot of silence and a lot of negative space, and I really worked with the composer to create those juxtapositions of like, those awkward silences and when something comes in.
I made 'The Farewell' for me, for my family, and for other immigrant children, or children of immigrants, who feel caught in-between two worlds.
If you think about feudal China during times of the emperors, food was a very elevated art form and you had to be really skilled.
My mother and my father are both very funny people, and they're both artistic in their own right. Oftentimes, we get very dramatic about things, but we also laugh really hard.
In some ways, every character we write, especially the protagonist, is some version of ourselves, as a writer/director, even if they aren't the same gender.
There's a reason why the cultures of so many Chinatowns around the world in some ways are more Chinese. They've held onto older Chinese rituals, traditions, and symbols in ways that, if you go back to China today, they're not holding on to. They're getting married in white dresses and in churches.