Asian Directors and Actors Make a Strong Showing at Sundance 2024

Sean Wang’s coming-of-age feature Dìdi picked up critical accolades and an Audience Award

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Simon Frank
5:47 PM HKT, Tue January 30, 2024 1 mins read

This year’s Sundance Film Festival, one of global independent film’s biggest annual events, wrapped up on Sunday, January 28. The 2024 edition featured strong representation from Chinese and Asian American directors, actors, and other creatives, with Sean Wang’s debut feature Dìdi even picking up the Audience Award in the festival’s US Dramatic Competition.

Other highlights included leading roles from stars Steven Yeun (across from Kristen Stewart in sci-fi romance Love Me) and Lucy Liu (in Steven Soderbergh’s well-received ghost thriller, Presence). Chinese director Jianjie Lin made his debut with Brief History of a Family, a suspense-filled drama in which the ambitions of China’s upper middle class intersect with the ambiguous relationship between two teenagers. Might this more understated Chinese take on some of themes behind Saltburn make it to mainland screens soon?

Besides its Audience Award, Wang’s Dìdi also garnered rave reviews from publications such as The Los Angeles Times and The Guardian.

Praised for its accurate depiction of online life, Dìdi takes a semi-autobiographical look at a Taiwanese American boy navigating early adolescence in 2008. Played by newcomer Izaac Wang, protagonist Chris Wang lives with his mother (veteran star Joan Chen), sister, and grandparents in suburban California, with his father away in Taiwan on business. Over the summer between middle school and high school, Chris stumbles between friendships, crushes, and family, facing racism and the more universal pains of growing up along the way.

However, despite its enthusiastic reception at Sundance, as of the weekend Dìdi was yet to receive a distribution deal — the conventional route to a wider market for Sundance hits. Here’s hoping the film makes it to silver screens soon, especially since Wang has just received an Oscar nomination for his documentary short Nǎi Nai and Wài Pó!


Banner image from Dìdi, via Sundance.

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