‘The Farewell’ Director Lulu Wang Heads into Virtual Reality with Her Next Film

The Farewell might have earned “only” $19.6 million at the worldwide box office. But the film is easily one of 2019’s biggest success stories. The comedy/drama launched star Awkwafina into dramatic territory for the first time with a Golden Globe-nominated performance.

Yet, the film is an even bigger step forward for writer/director Lulu Wang. With a bonafide indie hit under her belt, the filmmaker is busy readying her next project. And now fans of The Farewell have a better idea of what to expect from Wang in the future.

Lulu Wang at a press conference for 'The Farewell'
Lulu Wang at a press conference for ‘The Farewell’ | Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images for RFF

Lulu Wang has arrived with ‘The Farewell’

Prior to The Farewell, Wang’s only directorial feature was 2014’s Posthumous. That film starred Brit Marling and Jack Huston. While it barely got a theatrical release, Wang’s debut ultimately set the stage for a far more personal second effort.

The Farewell centers on a Chinese family which decides to keep its matriarch’s (Zhao Shuzhen) terminal illness a secret from her. But writer Billi (Awkwafina) has significant doubts about her family’s decision regarding her grandmother. What results is a deep meditation on culture, family, and death.

Wang’s film is actually based on her own experience with her grandmother. By tapping into something so specific, the director hit on a universal story which has resonated with audiences and critics alike. With many considering The Farewell one of the 2019’s best films, Wang is now all set to pursue her passion projects with renewed clout.

Her next project involves virtual reality

Her first project following The Farewell is sure to surprise even Wang’s most ardent fans. Tentatively titled Children of the New World, the film is adapted from Alexander Weinstein’s short story collection of the same name. At a recent event, IndieWire caught up with Wang, who shared some details about how her film will dig into technology and relationships.

It’s sci-fi, it’s set in virtual reality, as well as real reality. But really, for me, it’s about a relationship. It’s about a couple. And it’s about family. Basically, the premise is that they can’t have children, and so they end up going into the VR world and they have children there, digital children, as a way to experience parenting. So that’s how it’s marketed, as a parenting experience.

Although that premise couldn’t sound more different from The Farewell, Wang said she sees thematic connections between the two projects. After all, both films explore how the concepts of “love and loss” can be defined differently by different people. Since the best science fiction taps into real-life social and political questions, we’re intrigued by how Wang builds upon what she said in The Farewell.

When will we see ‘Children of the New World’?

Wang’s fans are likely waiting not-so-patiently to see what she does next. Yet, Children of the New World isn’t coming to a theater near you anytime soon. Rather, IndieWire reports the project is actually still in “the early writing stages.”

For the moment, Wang is keeping busy with the awards season circuit. The Farewell has been a pretty consistent presence in many critics’ awards. And Wang could find herself an Oscar-nominated filmmaker before long.

As much as we’re eagerly anticipating Children of the New World, Wang has earned something of a break. Besides, if she needs time to perfect the script, by all means, she should take it. If it’s anything like The Farewell, then moviegoers could be in for something very special.