Past Event19 Jul 2019

The Farewell

No longer available

The Civic


Deft and deeply felt, with a star-making turn from Awkwafina, Lulu Wang’s widely praised drama tells the story of a Chinese American family paying their last respects to a mother and grandmother who doesn’t know she’s dying.

The Farewell begins with struggling New York artist Billi (Awkwafina, the crazy best friend in Crazy Rich Asians) learning the news that her beloved Nai Nai (grandma) is dying of cancer. In China, Nai Nai’s loyal sister withholds the diagnosis, letting Nai Nai think she has a clean bill of health. Relatives from Japan and the USA fly home under the pretence of a wedding – surrounded by her entire clan, there’s no happier occasion for Nai Nai – and while pretending to celebrate, must bear the burden of sadness so she can live her last days in blissful ignorance.

Eschewing broad stereotypes for a nuanced everydayness, Wang’s film is of course sad, but also warm, perfectly strange (the absurdity and illegality of the ruse does not go unnoticed), rich with delicious food, and naturally funny in situations that, as a normal response to death, demand it. The wonderful ensemble cast, particularly Billi’s parents - played by veterans Tzi Ma and Diana Lin - subtly agitate and support Awkwafina’s breakthrough central performance; her face and body language marvels of whole emotions fighting against quiet, dutiful restraint. 


For the full NZIFF programme visit

THE FAREWELL | Official Trailer

NZ International Film Festival 2019 :

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