MAID IN MANHATTAN
(Director) has spent a career alternating between major Hollywood studio films
such as The Joy Luck Club and smaller, independent works like Smoke. He
most recently directed The Center of the World, with Molly Parker and
Peter Sarsgaard, a digitally shot independent film.
Wang was born in Hong
Kong after his family fled from China following the Communist takeover in 1947.
He graduated from Wah Yan Jesuit High School and came to the United States at
the age of 18 to study film at California College of the Arts and Crafts in
Wang's first feature
film was his graduate student project, A Man, A Woman, A Killer,
co-directed with Rick Schmidt. He returned to Hong Kong with a Masters degree
and went to work at the public broadcasting outlet R.T.H. (Radio and Television
Hong Kong), which had become a launching pad for young film school trained
directors who became known as the "Hong Kong New Wave." While there,
Wang directed several episodes of the landmark realistic drama series
"Below the Lion Rock," about the daily lives of ordinary Hong Kong
He returned to the U.S.
and moved to San Francisco, where he worked for a time with new immigrants from
Asia. The experience inspired Wang's second feature film, the critically
acclaimed Chan is Missing, in which he used a thriller plot as a vehicle
to explore social conflicts and political divisions in Chinatown. Made in 16mm
black & white for just $27,000, Chan is Missing was a decade ahead of
the recent wave of "micro-budget" successes such as El Mariachi
Wang's third feature, Dim
Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, had its world premiere in the Director's
Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and received a British Academy Award
nomination as Best Foreign Film. He next directed the thriller Slamdance
starring Tom Hulce, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Virginia Madsen. New York's
Chinatown was the setting and the subject of Wang's subsequent Eat a Bowl of
Tea, a period drama set in the 1940s and starring Wang's wife Cora Miao and
Russell Wong. This was followed by Life is Cheap...But Toilet Paper is
Expensive, a gangster comedy filmed in Hong Kong.
Wang's first studio
film was The Joy Luck Club, based on the best-selling novel by Amy Tan. Smoke
was based on novelist Paul Auster's original screenplay, and starred Harvey
Keitel, William Hurt and Forrest Whitaker. The film won the Silver Bear Award at
the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for France's Cesar Award for Best
Foreign Film. It was an enormous box-office success in Europe and Asia. Wang and
Auster also co-directed Blue in the Face, a second story employing many
of the same actors and settings as Smoke.
More recently, Wang
directed Chinese Box, a romance set in Hong Kong, starring Jeremy Irons
and Gong Li, and Anywhere But Here starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie
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