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‘The Farewell’ Director Lulu Wang’s Secretive Next Film Is About a Fertility Crisis in a Virtual-Reality World

At the SFFILM awards on December 3, Oscar contender Wang spoke to IndieWire about her mysterious followup "Children of the New World."

Lulu Wang

Lulu Wang

SFFILM/Tommy Lau

Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” has made an enormous impression on the late-year awards season despite opening over the summer. This fictional retelling of her own family’s efforts to keep their matriarch’s cancer diagnosis a secret claimed a spot on the AFI top 10 and earned a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Feature. Adding to her many accolades already, Wang was honored by SFFILM at the San Francisco nonprofit’s awards night on December 3, where she received the Kanbar Award for Storytelling. At the event, Wang spoke exclusively with IndieWire about her secretive next project, a sci-fi film she’s lined up with Big Beach (which also produced “The Farewell”) and Votiv (“Free in Deed,” “Obvious Child”).

Currently titled “Children of the New World,” the film adapts from Alexander Weinstein’s bestselling short story collection by the same name, which was lauded by both NPR and The New York Times. Each story is set in a near-future society. According to Wang, her film will focus on how technology shapes modern relationships and will tackle the construct of the nuclear family in a speculative-fiction setting.

“It’s sci-fi, it’s set in virtual reality, as well as real reality,” Wang said. “But really, for me, it’s about a relationship. It’s about a couple. And it’s about family. Basically, the premise is that they can’t have children, and so they end up going into the VR world and they have children there, digital children, as a way to experience parenting. So that’s how it’s marketed, as a parenting experience.”

Wang said that the film will tackle ambitious themes that resonate with those that took center-stage in “The Farewell.” “It’s about love and loss over something that quote-unquote doesn’t really exist, so what does that mean? What is love?” Wang said of “Children of the New World,” which will mark her third feature after “The Farewell” and 2014’s “Posthumous.”

Wang, however, said she is still in the early writing stages of the project. At the moment, she’s busy on the awards circuit promoting “The Farewell,” a film that still remains very much a secret from her real-life grandmother. Speaking with IndieWire earlier this season about what will happen to her real Nai Nai (which means grandmother in Chinese) once the film inevitably opens in China next year, Wang said, “That’s a long thing that I am still dealing with, with my family, and whether or not we will keep the secret is up in the air, because we want to show her the movie.”

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