Film at Lincoln Center announces “Lulu Wang’s Road to Expats,” a selection of films handpicked by Wang that influenced her new Prime Video series, featuring the filmmaker in-person for a Q&A following feature-length Expats episode “Central,” and an introduction to her 2019 hit The Farewell. The series will run from February 13 through February 15 and will include a wide range of influences, from 1970s classics to harrowing horror films to documentaries and narrative features tackling the intersection of class, race, and abuse of power, with several selections presented on 35mm.

With her breakout feature The Farewell, Lulu Wang—effortlessly observant of the nuances of human behavior as much as the peculiar cultural and generational schisms born of the hyphenated American experience—cuts through the noise of contemporary popular cinema as one of its most distinctive and sincere voices. Wang has followed up on the promise made by that 2019 feature with her recent and perhaps most moving work yet: Expats (launching on Prime Video on January 26) is a six-part adaptation of Janice Y. K. Lee’s widely acclaimed The Expatriates (1998). Vividly bringing Lee’s novel to life on an ambitious scale and with a peerless cast including Nicole Kidman, Ji-young Yoo, and Sarayu Blue, Wang has fashioned an exquisite ensemble drama surrounding a trio of women bound by tragedy. She casts her penetrating gaze on the intersection of race and privilege in Hong Kong’s milieu of expats, and the migrant domestic workers employed by them, in the months leading up to the 2014 Umbrella Revolution. 

On February 15, Film at Lincoln Center will host Wang, who directed each of the six episodes, for a Q&A following a screening of the series’ penultimate chapter, “Central,” and an introduction for her widely beloved feature The Farewell. In anticipation of this evening, and to further enrich the many ways of approaching Expats, Wang also curated a selection of films that directly influenced her new series. Highlights include well-known filmmakers’ works, such as Triangle of Sadness writer-director Ruben Östlund’s 2011 film Play; the overdue New York theatrical premiere of A White, White Day (2019) from filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason (recently shortlisted for an Oscar with his latest film Godland); and classics including a 4K restoration of Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975) and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973), which will be presented on an archival 35mm print on Valentine’s Day along with 35mm presentations of Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) and Bong Joon Ho’s Mother (2009) for the ultimate relationship horror trifecta.

Additionally, both Wang and filmmaker Joanna Bowers will introduce the U.S. theatrical premiere of Bowers’s 2018 documentary The Helper, which served as a key reference to Wang while developing Expats and sheds light on the reality of the migrant domestic worker industry with impressive resourcefulness and heartfelt intuition.

Organized by Florence Almozini, Tyler Wilson, and Lulu Wang.

Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, January 16 at 2pm, with an early access period for FLC Members starting at noon. Tickets are $17; $14 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $12 for FLC Members. See more and save at FLC with a 3+ Film Package ($15 for general public; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for FLC Members). Add dinner at Café Paradiso, located in FLC’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, with our $30 Dinner + Movie Combo

All films screen at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.)

Sneak Preview
Expats Ep. 5: “Central”
Lulu Wang, USA, 2023, 97m
Filipino and English with English subtitles

Expats. Courtesy of Prime Video.

Lulu Wang casts her penetrating gaze on the intersection of race and class in Hong Kong’s milieu of expats, and the migrant domestic workers employed by them, in this vivid adaptation of Janice Y. K. Lee’s widely acclaimed novel, The Expatriates (1998). Across six episodes, Expats shuttles back and forth between the prelude and aftermath of a tragedy that has dramatically reshaped the lives of three women—Margaret (Nicole Kidman), a mother left shattered as she navigates her way through an inconceivable loss; her neighbor Hilary (Sarayu Blue), herself struggling to regain control of her marriage in the face of infidelity; and the twentysomething, free-spirited Mercy (Ji-young Yoo), who finds herself caught in the center of Margaret and Hilary’s anguish. But for the limited series’ feature-length fifth episode, the three women recede into the background with Wang shifting her focus in an entirely different direction, and transforming this rich tapestry of stories into something altogether more complex. In this penultimate episode, “Central,” Margaret and Hilary’s Filipina caretakers, Essie (Ruby Ruiz) and Puri (Amelyn Pardenilla), come to the fore as we follow them on their day off—socializing, corresponding with family abroad, and carving out time to pursue their own dreams, but who nevertheless remain entangled in their employers’ quandaries, and whose own future hangs in the balance of their every decision. A Prime Video release.
Thursday, February 15 at 6:15pm (Q&A with Lulu Wang)

The Farewell
Lulu Wang, USA, 2019, 100m
Mandarin and English with English subtitles

The Farewell. Courtesy of A24.

One of the most moving and heartfelt films about an elaborate fib, Wang’s tender and idiosyncratic family reunion drama assumes the rare balance of a dark comedy and a genuinely earnest expression of love, amidst all its miscommunications. Awkwafina turns in a staggering lead performance as the Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi, who reluctantly goes from New York to Changchun—an industrial center located in northeast China’s Jilin province—to find that, although her entire family knows their beloved matriarch Nai Nai has been given a few weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell her. Instead, they pretend their gathering is for a joyous, if strangely sudden, wedding. Through Wang’s remarkable ear for dialogue and personal connection to the material (it is, as the film states in its opening, based on an actual lie), The Farewell builds toward a one-of-a-kind portrait of the immigrant experience, of intergenerational and culture-clashing family dynamics, and the lengths we’re willing to go to say goodbye.
Thursday, February 15 at 9:15pm (Introduction by Lulu Wang)

Don’t Look Now
Nicolas Roeg, U.K./Italy, 1973, 35mm, 110m

Don’t Look Now. Courtesy of British FIlm Institute.

Nicolas Roeg’s creeped-out contemporary Gothic stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a married couple who relocate to a wintry, off-season Venice—where a serial killer menaces its emptied-out canals and alleys—some time after their young daughter drowns in an accident at their English country home. John (Sutherland), a restoration architect, busies himself rehabilitating a 16th-century church while his wife Laura (Christie) becomes involved with a pair of witchy sisters on vacation, one of them a blind clairvoyant whose visions of their deceased child confuse the bereft husband and wife’s perception of what’s real and imagined. An adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1971 short story, Don’t Look Now is arguably one of the greatest horror films of the 20th century—an elegantly weird, nearly experimental portrait of loss that loops on itself like a Möbius strip. 35mm print courtesy of the British Film Institute.

“A visually immersive, psychological horror that turns grief into the monster, Don’t Look Now is a master class on foreshadowing and building dread. Filled with iconic images and tremendous performances.” —Lulu Wang
Wednesday, February 14 at 6:00pm

U.S. Theatrical Premiere
The Helper
Joanna Bowers, USA, 2018, 103m

The Helper. Courtesy of Joanna Bowers/Gravitas Ventures.

In Joanna Bowers’s debut documentary, doubtlessly a key reference to Wang while developing Expats, in particular “Central,” the reality of the migrant domestic worker industry is plumbed with impressive resourcefulness and heartfelt intuition. The Helper sheds light on the thousands of women who, each year, travel from around Southeast Asia to seek employment as live-in caretakers for Hong Kong’s wealthiest families. Bowers trains her camera on the sacrifices and challenges facing these women—from Nurul, a young Indonesian helper accused of theft, to Liza, who carves out her own path of financial freedom—alongside local organizations fighting for workers’ rights and even a choir of workers as they prepare for their debut performance at Clockenflap, Hong Kong’s largest outdoor music festival, in 2015.

“An eye-opening documentary that offers a glimpse into the lives of Hong Kong’s domestic helpers.” —Lulu Wang
Thursday, February 15 at 3:30pm (Introduction by Lulu Wang and Joanna Bowers)

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower
Joe Piscatella, Hong Kong, 2017, 79m
English and Cantonese with English subtitles

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower.

Joe Piscatella’s Sundance Audience Award–winning documentary chronicles the salad days of Hong Kong activist-politician Joshua Wong—just 14 years old and taking to task the Chinese government’s pro-Communist education program in Hong Kong. From his early modest grassroots efforts distributing leaflets, to the organized occupation of Civic Square at the incipient stage of the 2014 Occupy Central protests (for which Wong and many others were jailed), Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower captures pivotal moments leading up to the Umbrella Revolution, the steadfast youthful defiance that made such a movement possible, and remains a clear-eyed, unfussy object lesson on the enduring impact of ordinary individuals.

“A vital film on the plight of Hong Kong youth in dissent during the 2014 Hong Kong Occupy Movement.” —Lulu Wang
Thursday, February 15 at 1:30pm

Mother / Maedo
Bong Joon Ho, South Korea, 2009, 35mm, 129m
Korean with English subtitles

Mother / Maedo.

After he propelled the creature feature to new heights with The Host, Bong Joon Ho returned to small-town intrigue with this searing melodrama that also functions as a female-fronted whodunit. Convinced that her son has been wrongly accused of a young girl’s murder, a widow throws herself body and soul into proving his innocence. As damning a critique on class and corruption as Memories of Murder, Mother also stands out in Bong’s filmography as a laser-focused character study—veteran actress Kim Hye-ja gives perhaps the performance of her career—that’s as heartrending, thrilling, uncomfortably funny, and thoroughly unpredictable as anything he’s ever made. An NYFF47 selection.

A masterpiece thriller from Bong Joon Ho, the unsettling menace and madness of a mother’s love.” —Lulu Wang
Wednesday, February 14 at 8:30pm

My Love, Don’t Cross That River / Nim-a, geu-gang-eul geon-neo-ji ma-o
Jin Moyoung, South Korea, 2014, 86m
Korean with English subtitles

My Love, Don’t Cross That River / Nim-a, geu-gang-eul geon-neo-ji ma-o. Courtesy of Film Movement.

Equal parts touching and earth-shattering, director Jin Moyoung’s documentary portrait of the 76-year companionship of “100-year-old lovebirds” Jo Byeong-man and Kang Kye-yeol—which became an unexpected blockbuster in South Korea and remains one of the country’s most successful films—observes, across 15 months, the tender moments of the couple’s twilight days around their rural riverside home and as they gradually confront the inevitable reality of their impending separation. An indelible narrative of enduring love spanning generations and cultures, My Love, Don’t Cross That River effortlessly captures the weight of this extraordinary relationship and invites us to consider the forms and passages love takes across time and life itself.

“A charming and heart-wrenching documentary on marriage, commitment, and the inevitable pain on the other side of extraordinary love.” —Lulu Wang
Wednesday, February 14 at 1:30pm

Robert Altman, USA, 1975, 160m

Nashville. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Robert Altman’s monumental, kaleidoscopic musical follows the crisscrossing lives of 24 residents and visitors of Tennessee’s capital—from its country-western musical luminaries (Ronee Blakley, Henry Gibson, Keith Carradine, Lily Tomlin), to a groupie-cum-aspiring singer (Shelley Duvall) supposedly in town to visit her dying aunt, to a celebrity-obsessed reporter (Geraldine Chaplin), to the never seen but omnipresent presidential hopeful (Thomas Hal Phillips)—in the lead-up to a political campaign’s fundraising concert. Arguably the director’s magnum opus, Altman reached new heights of his free-roaming style and pushed the limits of collective filmmaking—with actors improvising and, in some cases, writing and performing their own songs—to render not just a portrait of a city, or an industry, but a radically prophetic panorama of 1970s America’s grandiose contradictions, incidental resonances, and culture-shifting tragedies. 4K restoration courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

“One of my favorite films, Nashville is an extraordinarily textured tapestry of a city, a country, and the intersection of people in a particular place and time.” —Lulu Wang
Tuesday, February 13 at 8:30pm

Ruben Östlund, 2011, Sweden/France/Denmark, 118m
Swedish with English subtitles


“I want to make the audience active and reflective,” Ruben Östlund has stated. He does just that with this controversial record, inspired by actual court cases, of five Black teenagers harassing white and Asian youths through scams and role-playing. All violence is implied, but the graver implication (which inflamed critics on the home front) is that political correctness debilitates society, as “good people” stand by and do nothing for fear of being thought racist. The two-time Palme d’Or winning director (Triangle of Sadness, The Square), who also won a Swedish Oscar for best director and the Coup de coeur prize at Cannes for this film, imprisons his actors within a frame, not unlike our social mores freezing us in place. Unabashedly impolite, Play offers food for thought and fuel for fury. An NYFF49 selection.

“An acute and layered observation of class and race told through long takes, with a static frame loaded with details.” —Lulu Wang
Tuesday, February 13 at 6:00pm

Twilight’s Kiss / Suk Suk
Ray Yeung, Hong Kong, 2019, 92m
Cantonese with English subtitles

Twilight’s Kiss / Suk Suk. Courtesy of Strand Releasing.

Ray Yeung’s third feature follows two closeted elderly married men in Hong Kong—Pak (Tai Bo, A City of Sadness), a taxi driver, and Hoi (Ben Yuen, 2046), a retired single father—who, despite having long suppressed their own desires, take pride in the families they’ve built from societal pressures. But a chance meeting forces them to reflect on the directions their lives took and the love they share with each other and their families. Eschewing tragic melodrama in favor of the subtle tenderness of domestic comfort and stolen moments, Yueng crafts a delicate romance about two men falling in love for the first time in their seventies, and brings to bear with the utmost subtlety the pains of concealment, of paths not taken, and the profoundly complex choice between concealment and self-sacrifice. 

“Set in Hong Kong, Suk Suk is a poignant portrayal of two secretly gay men in their twilight years. It explores love, family, regret and takes us to many of the quieter, less glamorous parts of the city.” —Lulu Wang
Tuesday, February 13 at 1:00pm

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lynne Ramsay, U.K./USA, 2011, 35mm, 112m

We Need to Talk About Kevin. Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories.

Where does a mother go wrong? Lynne Ramsay marked the end of a near-decade-long hiatus with this adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel, which follows the before-and-after life of a mother (Tilda Swinton in a career-best) whose teenage son (Ezra Miller) carries out a Columbine-style massacre at his high school. With its atomized narrative structure and a deft deployment of tropes that call to mind the great lineage of “bad seed” horror (The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby among them), We Need to Talk About Kevin ratchets up an unnerving power that peers deep into the facade of an all-American family, and the resulting work, as with Ramsay’s other films, suggests a disturbed state of mind through indelible images. 35mm print courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories.

“A disturbing and brilliant film about a woman grappling with inexplicable evil told through a non-linear narrative structure.” —Lulu Wang
Wednesday, February 14 at 3:30pm

A White, White Day / Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur
Hlynur Pálmason, Iceland/Denmark/Sweden, 2019, 109m
Icelandic with English subtitles
New York Theatrical Premiere

A White, White Day / Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur. Courtesy of Film Movement.

What begins as a richly textured portrait of loss gradually descends, with dreamlike pacing, into something more offbeat and shocking in Hlynur Pálmason’s follow-up to his award-winning debut Winter Brothers (ND/NF 2018). A bereft former police chief (Ingvar Sigurðsson in a Cannes award-winning performance), whose golden years are spent between caring for his granddaughter and remodeling a house, starts to suspect a local man of having had an affair with his late wife. As past memories take on different shades of meaning, his suspicion turns obsessive and imperils those around him. With breathtaking cinematography by Maria von Hausswolff, Pálmason (Godland) finds seemingly boundless ways to conform the elemental delights and solitude of Iceland’s east coast with the volatile nature of its grief-stricken protagonist.  

“In looking to portray grief without the sentimentality, we referenced A White, White Day for its exploration of grief through obsession and rage told through a stark, poetic visual language that evokes equal parts psychological tension and heartbreak.” —Lulu Wang
Tuesday, February 13 at 3:30pm