Lulu Wang is not convinced that Ron Howard is the right guy to direct Chinese pianist Lang Lang’s biopic.
On Tuesday Wang, who last year explored distinctions between Chinese and American perspectives on illness and loss in her comedy-drama The Farewell, tweeted out an article about the project with skepticism.
“As a classically-trained pianist born in China, I believe it's impossible to tell Lang Lang's story without an intimate understanding of Chinese culture + the impact of the Cultural Revolution on artists & intellectuals + the effects of Western imperialism,” Wang wrote. “Just saying.”
Wang went on to say that she is not angling to direct the project herself. “I just don't think these are the artists to grapple w/ the cultural specificities of Northeast China where Lang Lang (and my family) are from,” she continued. “Or w/ the cultural aspect of the physical violence in his upbringing.”
“Have we learned NOTHING from Mulan?” Wang concluded. “I haven't said anything because yes representation and many people I love are involved, but I just have to. Just HAVE to. Because 2020 man... and I'm fucking exhausted.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the currently untitled film will be based on Lang Lang’s memoir Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story, which the famed concert pianist wrote with David Ritz. Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney will pen the adaptation.
The announcement and Wang’s critique come on the heels of boycott calls against Disney’s live-action Mulan, which was written and directed by white people and shot in a province known for human rights abuses including the internment of 1 million Muslim residents.
In referencing Mulan, Wang has drawn attention not only to the issues of authenticity when white writers and directors attempt to tell stories they might not be equipped to share, but also the liabilities that come with doing so. Although in this case at least, Lang himself will at least serve as an executive producer.
In a statement about the film as news broke, Lang said, “Dream big, work hard, and always believe in yourself. This movie, thanks to Ron Howard’s vision, will inspire young people around the world to follow their dreams and never forget they are one in a million.”