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“The Joy Luck Club” Has Been Added to the US National Film Registry

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Each year, the National Film Registry selects 25 films to add to its archive representing the “range and diversity of American film heritage.” This year, seminal Chinese-American film The Joy Luck Club was selected for the list, marking something of a trend as the registry added a record number of works by women and people of color.

The 1993 film was based on Amy Tan’s book of the same name. Its representation of San Francisco Chinese families, centered around a community mahjong club, became an instant classic.

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“Up until then, there were really no true, authentic representations of Chinese stories, both in, perhaps, China or when they immigrate here as Chinese Americans,” Wayne Wang, the film’s director told The Washington Post. “It was really important for me to do this film for Disney, which is a big studio, to be able to reach a larger audience.”

The Joy Luck Club is Wang’s second film to make the registry list, after 1982’s Chan is Missing was added in 1985.

The film was a hit, even after encountering major challenges in production. Originally produced by Carolco Pictures, the collaboration ran aground due to financial and creative challenges. A year later, Amy Tan and Ronald Bass rewrote the screenplay and finally inked a deal with Walt Disney Studios for the project.

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The Joy Luck Club paved the way for films like Crazy Rich Asians, and upcoming Shang-Chi. Wang, now 71, has witnessed huge changes in Hollywood.

“It’s a whole different era and ballgame these days,” he told The Post.

Lakshmi Iyengar
    Lakshmi Iyengar is a Yenching Scholar studying health, economics, and modern China. Before moving to Beijing, she majored in Biomedical Engineering at Yale. Follow her on twitter @vlakshmiiyengar for insights on China and life