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Never Mind the Oscars: “The Farewell” Secures Big Wins at Independent Spirit Awards

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Lulu Wang’s The Farewell may have been completely shut out from the Academy Awards, but the director had plenty to smile about on Saturday night as her touching film was recognized with two wins at the Independent Spirit Awards, which celebrates movies made for 22.5 million USD or less.

The Farewell won for Best Feature, while Zhao Shuzhen — who plays the grandma at the heart of the story — scooped Best Supporting Female. Zhao was unable to accept her award in person due to the US’s travel ban on foreign citizens who have visited China in the last two weeks in the wake of the novel coronavirus.

Related:

“The Farewell” Gets Intimate with the Gaps Between Being Asian, Being Chinese, and Being American

Accepting the Best Feature award, Wang addressed the gender imbalance that many have highlighted following the Academy Awards’ all-male Best Director shortlist. “I just have to say that we don’t have to encourage women, there are lots of women making films and who want to make films, and who are in film school,” she said. “Really what women need is the job. Just give them the frickin’ job, give them the money, because unfortunately in America, we’re not going to have a lifelong career in government-funded films, so just give the women the job.”

Another China-related winner at the awards was American Factory, which took home the prize for Best Documentary. Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s film, the first presented by the Obamas as part of their partnership with Netflix, follows a shuttered General Motors factory’s apparent resurrection under Chinese ownership, and the major culture clash that follows.

Related:

The Obamas’ First Film for Netflix is Making Headlines in China

And while The Farewell is not among the nominees at the 92nd Academy Awards, American Factory does have a shot at Oscars glory, having been nominated in the Documentary (Feature) category.

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.