Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Broad Green Enters Long-Term Home Video Deal with Universal for Burgeoning Slate Broad Green Enters Long-Term Home Video Deal with Universal for Burgeoning Slate Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Watch 'SPECTRE' Trailer: James Bond Meets the Author of His Pain Watch 'SPECTRE' Trailer: James Bond Meets the Author of His Pain 'BoJack Horseman,' 'Rick and Morty,' and Our Love/Hate Relationship with TV 'BoJack Horseman,' 'Rick and Morty,' and Our Love/Hate Relationship with TV Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) First Look at Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a Gay Couple in 'Freeheld' First Look at Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a Gay Couple in 'Freeheld' Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Must-See "In The Family" is Indie Tragedy; Rookie Director Wang Says 'Enough Already' to Low Expectations and Garbage; EXCLUSIVE Clip

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood May 30, 2012 at 2:39PM

The definition of indie film is blurry these days. But Patrick Wang's debut feature, "In The Family," certainly fits the bill. The drama runs 169 minutes with mostly long single takes. It's about two gay dads; when one dies, the other wages a legal fight for custody of their child. Not an easy sell, especially without recognizable stars.
2
In The Family 1
The definition of indie film is blurry these days. But Patrick Wang's debut feature, "In The Family," certainly fits the bill. The drama runs 169 minutes with mostly long single takes. It's about two gay dads; when one dies, the other wages a legal fight for custody of their child. Not an easy sell, especially without recognizable stars.
 
Writer-director-star Wang decided to open the film himself at a Manhattan theater last November after it debuted at the Hawaii and San Diego Asian Film Festivals after nearly 30 fest rejections. The film then got the attention of the New York Times; they hailed it "one of the most accomplished and undersold directorial debuts this year...timeless and topical." Roger Ebert was "completely absorbed from beginning to end."
 
"In The Family" earned an Indie Spririt Award nomination for Best First Feature, and lost to star-packed "Margin Call." And "In the Family" also won the Best Feature and Emerging Filmmakers awards at San Diego, the Spokane Int'l Film Festival and the San Francisco Int'l Asian American Film Festival.
 
But what then? Vagrant films is distributing the film in Canada and Peccadillo Pictures in the UK and Ireland, but Wang is self- distributing stateside. "I think the struggle with U.S. distribution has been no big movie stars," Wang says, "no top five festival support, 'stylistically sui generis,' first-time director, and running time. You're never certain, but I suspect that is also the order of importance. The approach is more the obstacle than the subject matter."
 
Many gay festivals and distributors turned down the film, which is only twenty minutes longer than "The Avengers" -- surely the film's antithesis. Length is an unfortunate element here, especially when it's a non-issue once people actually watch it.
 
It's an indie tragedy that the film isn't getting the kind of attention it deserves -- and not just because gay marriage is a searing public and political issue. Wang is defiantly uncompromising in his approach. "It's amazing how many voices you will encounter trying to convince you to make a bad movie," says Wang. "They say take that wonderful and unique thing you have and turn it into garbage because the people love garbage and what's safer than garbage and we all live in garbage anyway."
 
So amidst these pressures, you must defend original work, he says: "You need someone to say, 'Enough already.' I got tired of waiting for someone, so I said, 'Enough already.'"
 
"In The Family"'s release schedule is here. Next stop is Key West, FL on June 1. Our interview with Wang and an exclusive clip are below.
In The Family 2

TOH!: You said you made the film "to defend the things I love"?

Patrick Wang: It is rare I leave a contemporary movie thinking I have seen something that resembles my life and that gives me some useful ideas about how to think about or address the conflict and struggles in it. When I think of my heroes -- essentially earnest and peaceful people who get knocked around in life like the rest of us, but who manage to make good decisions and live gracefully and generously -- I don't see people like this on screen. And yet these people do give me ideas about how to address the conflict and struggles in my life. They are a large inspiring force behind "In The Family." Aesthetically, I want to defend the place of literature and performance in film. I don't think there's any reason a film can't have a novelistic density of people, place, and ideas. Regarding performance, there's no shortage of tremendous actors, but I think the conventional tools for capturing a performance suck the life right out of it. There is a lot to discover about what makes a performance captivating, how to watch it, and the sequence and rhythm of details that reveal a person's character...


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.