Friday, June 9, 1:30 p.m.
Bettendorf Public Library, 2950 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf IA
A Golden Globe winner whose critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes calls the film "a poignant, well-acted (movie) that marries cultural specificity with universally relatable themes," writer/director Lulu Wang's comedic drama The Farewell will enjoy a Bettendorf Public Library screening on June 9 in conjunction with the summertime "Find Your Voice" series, a program focused on works about people from marginalized communities that have been historically underrepresented in film.
In The Farewell, Aspiring Chinese-American writer Billi (Awkwafina) maintains a close relationship with her paternal grandmother Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen), who lives in Changchun, China. After receiving a rejection letter for a Guggenheim Fellowship, Billi discovers from her parents that Nai Nai has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and is predicted to have only a few months left to live. Through deception and manipulation of medical test results, however, the diagnosis is kept a secret from Nai Nai herself. who is instead told that her recent doctor visits have only revealed benign findings.
A wedding for Billi's cousin from Japan has been planned in China as an excuse to unite the family to spend what is expected to be one last time with Nai Nai, and fearing that Billi will end up exposing the lie to her grandmother, the young woman's parents tell her to remain in New York City. But Billi disobeys her their orders and flies to Changchun, assuring her parents that she will not reveal the cancer diagnosis to Nai Nai. Throughout the trip, however, she clashes with the rest of the family over their deliberate dishonesty towards her grandmother, leaving guilt-ridden Billi conflicted over the Chinese cultural beliefs that result in a family refusing to disclose a life-threatening disease.
The film is based in part on director Wang's life experiences, which she first publicly discussed as part of her radio story "What You Don't Know," which appeared as part of an episode of This American Life. The Farewell was screened in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was theatrically released in the United States in July 2019 by A24. Wang's work received widespread acclaim from critics, with particular praise for her screenplay and the performances of Awkwafina and Zhao Shuzhen. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for two awards including Best Foreign Language Film, with Awkwafina winning for Best Actress – Musical or Comedy.
The Farewell will be presented in the library's Bettendorf Single Room on June 9, admission to the 1:30 p.m. screening is free, and more information is available by calling (563)344-4175 and visiting BettendorfLibrary.com.