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Saving Face

About the Film
Year Released: 
Running Time: 

Director Alice Wu establishes herself as a fresh new American voice with this wonderfully executed romantic comedy of manners. Her debut feature, Saving Face, is a delightful and inspired addition to the roster of films that take on the dynamics of family and love amidst clashing traditional and contemporary mores. Wil and her Ma come from a traditional Chinese family in Flushing, Queens. At first glance, Wil is the picture of the perfect traditional Chinese daughter--a successful surgeon who is dutiful to her widowed mother. The only thing is that Wil dresses a little, well, not right. In fact, at the weekly Chinese singles dance, Wil seems not to be interested in men at all. It turns out that she is secretly struggling to land her first lesbian date with Vivian, a gorgeous ballet dancer. But just when things are looking up, the 48-year old Ma lands on her doorstep announcing that she is pregnant and moving in. Ma has a secret of her own, refusing to name the father for fear of disgracing herself in the eyes of her traditional community. The emotional tones of desire, humiliation, jubilation, and confusion are richly inhabited by a wonderful cast led by the radiant Joan Chen. With Saving Face, Wu and her team have ultimately crafted an infectiously warm, sexy, and heartfelt tale about what it means to live life honestly.

-, Shari Frilot, Saving Face, Institute History, 2005 Sundance Film Festival, Poster Image (attach in separate file).

Poster Image: 
Film Director: 
Production Info
Reported or Estimated Budget: 
$ 2,500,000 - IMDB
New York City, New York, USA
Other Interesting Production Info: 
Alice Wu based her film off her own coming out story.
Categories About the Film
interracial relations
urban life
Racial/Ethnic Affiliation: 
Filmmaking Team
Writer's Name: 
Alice Wu
James Lassiter, Teddy Zee, Will Smith
Harlan Bosmajian
Primary Cast: 
Michelle Krusiec, Joan Chen, Lynn Chen
Exhibition/Distribution Info
Sony Pictures
Box Office Earnings: 
Where to find it/How to get it: 
DVD widely available

Toronto Film Festival – world premeire-

Sundance Film Festival

San Francisco Asian American Film Festival

Seattle International Film Festival

GLAAD Media Awards

Year    Result Award            Category/Recipient(s)

2006    Nominated      GLAAD Media Award          Outstanding Film - Limited Release


Golden Horse Film Festival

Year    Result Award            Category/Recipient(s)

2005    Won    Viewer's Choice Award         

Nominated      Golden Horse Award             Best Actress Michelle Krusiec


Gotham Awards

Year    Result Award            Category/Recipient(s)

2005    Nominated      Breakthrough Director Award  Alice Wu


San Diego Asian Film Festival

Year    Result Award            Category/Recipient(s)

2005    Won    Visionary Award        Alice Wu

Personal Film Review and Cultural Context: 

Wil (Michelle Krusiec) leads as the accomplished surgeon and daughter of the fragile widow "Ma" played by prominent Chinese actress Joan Chen. Almost out of nowhere, Wil is obligated to take in her only living parent when Ma is discovered by her parents to be with child and no ‘’husband to match.’’ When she finds herself enamored with the lively, stunning dancer Vivian (who just so happens to be the daughter of her boss,) Wil tip-toes around her mother, struggling accept her identity in relation to her traditionalist Chinese background. Captured through in soft, quiet, and thoughtfully intimate lensing, one senses the desperation lingering in the heart of every character as they struggle to find comfort in themselves and in each other.