In a Chinese promo video for The Farewell, a theater full of standing people is asked, “Whoever visited their grandparents in the last three months, sit down.” A series of similar questions follows. After the final question, “Whoever told their grandparents ‘I miss you’ in the past month, sit down,” half the room is still left standing.
In another video, four pairs of grandparents and grandchildren sit across from each other and share a secret they didn’t want the other to know. One grandmother confesses that she can’t bear to tell her granddaughter that her husband has passed away.
This creative marketing approach is courtesy of the film’s Chinese distributor Maoyan. The emotional reactions of the people featured are the hopeful responses to the film, whose path to release in China was fraught with criticism and months of delays. According to Variety, the film’s American-ness, as well as heightened government censorship, pushed the initial release date back from November 22 to January 10.
“The Farewell” Gets Intimate with the Gaps Between Being Asian, Being Chinese, and Being American
The Farewell tells the story of Billi, a Chinese-American girl who flies to China to say goodbye to her grandmother. Her grandmother doesn’t know she has lung cancer, and the family is determined to keep it a secret from her. The film’s star, Chinese-American actress Awkwafina, took home the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy last week.
With Lunar New Year right around the corner, it’s impossible for any Chinese person to watch these videos and not think of their families. The campaign’s themes of secrets and familial duty strongly resonate with the film’s Chinese title, 别告诉她, or Don’t Tell Her.
Watch for yourself below. Then have a good cry and call your grandmother.
Cover photo: Casi Moss
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