The filmmaker wrote that she is “f***ing exhausted.”
The news that Ron Howard is making a film based on Chinese pianist Lang Lang’s memoir, Journey of a Thousand Miles, only broke a few days ago. However, since then the announcement has drawn a lot of criticism. Director Lulu Wang has notably spoken out against the decision, comparing the situation to the live action remake of Mulan.
Making the announcement on the 22nd September, Howard said: “Bringing Lang Lang’s extraordinary childhood and career journey to the screen promises to be an amazing creative experience for all of us involved. I’m thankful for Lang Lang’s trust. I know it will be a personal adventure for me and an opportunity to really transport audiences.” Lang Lang will be working on the film alongside Howard as an executive producer.
However, Wang argues that Lang’s involvement is not enough, stating that Howard is lacking the knowledge of Chinese culture crucial to the execution of such a biopic.
Lang Lang’s biography, written in conjunction with David Ritz, documents Lang’s extraordinary rise to fame. It exposes the impact of Lang’s hard work not just on himself, but on his family as well. It introduces the reader to China’s cultural revolution and its impact.
It is this centrality of Chinese culture to Lang’s original telling of the story which Wang highlights. She continues: “I just don’t think these are the artists to grapple w/ the cultural specificities of Northeast China where Lang Lang (and my family) are from. Or w/ the cultural aspect of the physical violence in his upbringing.”
Wang has long been involved in fighting for cultural representation in film. In 2019, she completed the short film Touch for Project Involve, a program that describes itself as “a leader in the ongoing fight to build a more inclusive and equitable industry by supporting emerging filmmakers from communities underrepresented in film and entertainment”.
The filming of the biopic is due to begin soon.
Words by Matilda Martin
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