Feature: "Lucky Grandma," a love letter by Asian filmmakers to Chinatown

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-09 23:16:12|Editor: yan
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by Xinhua writer Luo Jingjing

NEW YORK, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Led by two female Asian-American filmmakers, the movie "Lucky Grandma" has sent a special "love letter" to the U.S. Chinatown, featuring a Chinese immigrant elderly woman and her adventurous experience.

"Lucky Grandma," which premiered during the lately-closed 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, depicted how Grandma Wong got herself in a big trouble but sill insisted her independent life, and finally reaped an unexpected cross-age friendship.

"If Grandma was inspired by real women, her world was inspired by the fictional worlds we grew up with on big screen," Sasie Sealy, director and writer of the film, wrote in her statement for the movie.

Both Sealy and Angela Cheng, script writer of the film, grew up under the influences of Chinese and American cultures, for which the mix and collision of the East and the West characteristics set the tone for this movie as funny but still touching, living somewhere between reality and imagination.

"I wanted to create... a movie I would have loved growing up. This is my love letter to Chinatown," Sealy said.

"When we started building out the character (Grandma Wong), we just realized how similar she was to our own grandparents..." Cheng told Xinhua in an interview during the film festival.

Cheng grew up with her grandmother, a "very independent" woman who "always spoke her mind."

Chinese-born British actress Zhou Caiqin, daughter of Peking Opera legend Zhou Xinfang, played the ornery, superstitious and complicated heroine, which was rare on screen.

"I'm attracted by the film because it's very rare that an ethnic female character plays the lead in every scene (of a U.S. movie). It was never seen before. And 52 percent of the crew were women," Zhou said, adding that "so I had to take it. I'm a feminist."

The legendary actress was as tough and "stubborn" as Gramma Wong, but was still deeply beloved and admired by the crew of the movie.

"She's so energetic and has a lot of spirit... When she was ready to act, you couldn't take your eyes off her because she really just went into the character," Cheng said.

"One thing that about working with Tsai (Zhou Caiqin) is that you never see the performance... It seems almost effortless, even though I know it's not, especially at her age. (She's) a total pro," Sealy said respectfully.

"Our relationship develops from strangers to friends, just as we were in real life. I really like it," said Corey Ha (Ha Hsiao-Yuan), who played Big Pong in the film, a bodyguard that finally became a friend of Grandma Wong.

As a former professional basketball player in China's Taiwan, Ha's big screen experience was limited. However, his acting surprised Sealy and the writers changed their original script and turned him into a co-star.

"If she (Zhou) is lucky grandma, then I'm the lucky grandson," Ha joked.