Lulu Wang Speaks Out Against Ron Howard Directing Biopic of Chinese Pianist Lang Lang

"The Farewell" filmmaker would prefer an Asian filmmaker tackle the life story of pianist Lang Lang on the big screen.
Lulu Wang and Ron Howard
Lulu Wang and Ron Howard

News that Ron Howard will direct an upcoming biographical drama about the life of famed Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang is being criticized on social media by writer-director Lulu Wang. “The Farewell” filmmaker took to Twitter to express frustration over a white director such as Howard being the creative force behind a film about the Asian experience.

“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 and the impact of the Cultural Revolution on artists and intellectuals and the effects of Western imperialism,” Wang wrote. “Just saying.”

Wang added that her criticism had nothing to do with her wanting to direct the Lang Lang movie herself, writing, “I do not [want to direct it]. I just don’t think these are the artists to grapple with the cultural specificities of Northeast China where Lang Lang (and my family) are from. Or with the cultural aspect of the physical violence in his upbringing.”

“Have we learned NOTHING from ‘Mulan’?” Wang asked, referring to Disney’s live-action remake being helmed by Niki Caro. “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.”

Howard’s Lang Lang movie is being written by “Power Rangers” scribes Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney based on the pianist’s memoir “Journey of a Thousand Miles.” Lang Lang is attached to the project as an executive producer and even thanked Ron Howard in a statement that read: “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.”

“Lang Lang’s story is one of determination, passion, sacrifice, and finding the inner strength to beat the odds,” Howard and his producing partner Brian Grazer added in a joint statement to THR. “This film is a bridge between two cultures that share universal truths about the gauntlets we face in the pursuit of greatness.”

See Wang’s reactions to the Lang Lang film in the posts below. IndieWire has reached out to the filmmaker for further comment.

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