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Meet the 2012 Best First Feature Spirit Award Nominees #5: Patrick Wang, ‘In The Family’

Meet the 2012 Best First Feature Spirit Award Nominees #5: Patrick Wang, 'In The Family'

Patrick Wang’s “In The Family” was hailed by the NYTimes as “remarkably fresh,” “topical and timeless.” First time director (and leading man) Wang studied physics and economics before jumping into theater, where he learned about design and how to work with actors. Now he’s up for the Indie Spirit Awards’ John Cassavettes First Feature prize.

Wang says his purpose in moviemaking is “to defend a certain set of priorities in film that seem to be out of favor these days: literature, humanity, insight, wisdom even. I also think we have a lot to learn about how to capture an actor’s performance on film for our generation, and I would like to take part in that discovery.” Cheers to that.

What’s it about? Two dads are raising a kid in Tennessee. Tragedy strikes and separates father from son. The dad searches for a way back into his kid’s life.

Director Wang says: “The biggest challenge was defending the differences in the film. Parts of the world can be very hostile to differences, social or artistic.

“”Scenes From a Marriage” and “A Woman Under the Influence” were my reference films for my design team. These movies make beautiful use of domestic spaces, and the shot design feels organic and inspired. Watching “Scenes From a Marriage,” I learned a lot about how to balance information coming from different departments. And as far as acting goes, Liv Ullmann’s performance is the high-water mark.”

What’s next? “I’ve written a screenplay that is a series of monologues and songs; they form this sort of human tapestry across time and place. The form is strange, but I find it really fascinating. My favorite part of that project will be getting to work with a lot of actors. I’m also working on adapting a novel for film. I’m particularly excited about this because I don’t think film adaptations of novels have been particularly ambitious in trying to match the dexterity and density of novels. With a healthy dose of invention, I think it can be done, and this particular novel is the perfect candidate.”

Here’s a scene from the film:

Indiewire invited Best First Feature and John Cassavettes 2012 Spirit Award Nominees to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the awards ceremony on February 25.

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