Filmmaker Spotlight: Li Lin Wee
The X1 Asian American Film & TV destination will feature “Areola Borealis,” written, directed and produced by Li Lin Wee. You can find the film in the Lunar New Year collection this February. We had the pleasure of asking Li Lin about her inspirations and how multi-cultural upbringing influences her work.
Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!
Li Lin Wee: “Areola Borealis” is a short I made in 2017, it was inspired by a true incident some years back when I had to lend my friend my bra on her wedding dinner night. Definitely one of the funniest and most distinctly feminine situations in my life. In my short, the protagonist is the mother of the bride, who has trouble coming to terms with her daughter marrying someone marrying outside her race and also an unexpected ‘incident’ of her daughter’s bra breaking. What should be the night she’s always dreamed of is turning out to be something else.
How did you get into filmmaking?
LW: I have always loved movies, the highlight of my teenage existence would be to loan out videos every weekend and go to the cinemas as often as I could, mostly by myself. But it never occurred to me that I could be part of the filmmaking world. I was very much an under the radar person and filmmakers to me seemed like these superhuman beings. When I was in my undergrad in the US, I pursued visual art, writing and photography, then when I delved in some film courses, it hit me in a big way - this makes deep sense, this is for me.
What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?
LW: Ang Lee, Sophia Coppola, Jane Campion, Eric Khoo and Merchant Ivory movies affected me in a big way while growing up. These past years, I have been deeply moved by the work of Barry Jenkins, Warwick Thornton and Alice Rohrwacher.
Do you have a favorite Asian and/or Asian American film?
LW: “Eat Drink Man Woman”
How does your Asian heritage influence your work?
LW: As a Singaporean, I'm pretty multi-cultural and also culturally malleable. As someone who grew up speaking mostly English (then Mandarin) and very influenced by Western cinema, music and books, that makes me more Anglo-sized, yet much of my mettle is very much Asian and specifically South East Asian. I embrace all this lovingly, especially as I get older and this has all informed my work and interests in a unique way.
What is your outlook on the state of Asian American cinema?
LW: I think it is really positive and I look forward to seeing more Asian American actors and filmmakers shining. I always remember at 19 watching the movie version of Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club,” beautifully directed by Wayne Wang. I was completely blown away by the performances of all the actors and had hoped to see more Asian American films follow, if not at least Asian American actors in major, significant roles in mainstream American movies and television. It has been a long wait since and their time has come.
What’s next for you?
LW: I am wrapping up some commercial gigs and then embarking on an indie short in June!
Come back each month when you want to know what to watch. Remember, if you’re unsure, just say “Asian American” into your X1 Voice Remote to discover more Asian American content. There’s more entertainment waiting for you!
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