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Director WAYNE WANG is a key figure in the development of independent filmmaking, alternating major Hollywood studio films such as "The Joy Luck Club” with smaller, independent work like "Smoke.” Continuing to work in the two different worlds, Wang directed an independent digital film, "The Center of the World,” with Molly Parker and Peter Sarsgaard, followed by Sony/Revolution's hit comedy "Maid in Manhattan” with Jennifer Lopez. His most recent effort, "Because of Winn-Dixie,” based on the children's novel by Kate DiCamillo, opened to solid reviews and box-office in February.

Born in Hong Kong where his family had fled from China after the Communist take-over in 1949, Wang graduated from Wah Yan Jesuit High School, then came to the United States at 18 to study painting and film at California College of the Arts and Crafts in Oakland. His first feature film was a graduate student project, "A Man, A Woman, a Killer,” co-directed with Rick Schmidt. Returning to Hong Kong with a master's degree, Wang went to work at the public broadcasting outlet R.T.H.K. (Radio and Television Hong Kong), which had become a launching pad for a whole group of young film school-trained directors who were creating what came to be 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 citizens.

Frustrated by the cramped creative atmosphere and bureaucracy of the Crown Colony, he returned to the U.S. and began social work in San Francisco's Chinatown. His experiences there with new Asian immigrants inspired Wang's second feature film, the critically acclaimed "Chan is Missing,” which used an enigmatic thriller plot as a vehicle to explore social conflicts and political divi¬sions in the neighborhood. Made in 16mm black & white, for just $27,000, pro¬duced, directed, written and edited by Wang, "Chan is Missing” was a decade ahead of the recent wave of "micro-budget” successes like "El Mariachi” and "Clerks.”

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. Seeking a dramatic change of pace in both tone and subject matter, he then directed the all-Anglo thriller "Slamdance,” a neo-noir melodrama starring Tom Hulce, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Virginia Madsen.

New York's Chinatown was both the setting and subject of Wang's next film "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.

Next came his first Hollywood feature, "The Joy Luck Club,” based on the best-selling novel by Amy Tan, then "Smoke,” based on novelist Paul Auster's original screenplay, and starring 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. Wang and Auster also co-directed "Blue in the Face,” a second story employing many of the same actors and settings as "Smoke.”

In 1997 Wang directed "Chinese Box,” a romance set in Hong Kong starring Jeremy Irons and Gong Li, about the return of Hong Kong to China. The next year, he directed "Anywhere But Here,” starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman, which tells the story of a flamboyant mother who, in search of the good life, moves with her daughter to Los Angeles. His most recent release is "Maid in Manhattan,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes. His most recently completed film is "Because of Winn-Dixie,” which was released in January 2005.


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