Director: Todd Lien, Dylan J Locke, Crystal J Huang, Arthur Peng
2020 | USA, China | 6m | English, Chinese
Following a graduation celebration, four Chinese people must navigate their relationships’ futures as dictated by the circumstances of life and their families.
Starring: Todd Lien, Dylan J Locke, Crystal J Huang, Arthur Peng
Playing in shorts program: Finding True Self- API Portraits
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Robin Wang is an award-winning director and screenwriter. He graduated from Duke University with a BA Degree in English and is now an MFA candidate in Film & Television Production at USC. He has completed six narrative shorts that are selected by festivals including Urbanworld, San Jose International Short Film Festival, as well as distribution platforms such as Dekkoo. With his main interests centering around the diversity of pan-Asian experiences, he wants to create films that stimulate the mind and entertain the audience, in genres as diverse as romcom, heartfelt drama, and fantasy-horror.
“You’re watching the results of five thousand years of sexual repression,” remarked Ang Lee famously in The Wedding Banquet.
I wear my heart on my sleeves for this film. As a Chinese LGBT individual, I have been asked by elders and relatives countless times if I am getting a girlfriend or when I will get married. For politeness, all I could reply is to smile with them. But deep down, my heart breaks: I hope so much that I can share with them the pains and joys of being someone they will probably never understand, but in the end I could only swallow it and keep who I am a secret.
With this broken heart comes the idea for “Graduation.” The plot was inspired by my own graduation at Duke University in 2019.
“Graduation” is a romantic comedy about lies and secrets – and how they crumble when we are away from the pretensions of society and allowed to be true to ourselves. It is a film about family, about the gaps between generations that could probably never really understand each other – but somehow find themselves in similar dilemmas as their forbidden love chafes against the confines of society.
Most importantly, it is a story told from an Asian-LGBT perspective but demands a universal recognition. Love happens to any human being regardless of age, sex, or sexual orientation — and one will set himself/ herself free by giving others the freedom to pursue their own love.
Lastly, I envision the film as a synthesis of Call Me By Your Name and Eat Drink Man Woman – to capture the bittersweet nature of love, farewell, reunion, and growing up as a queer person in the Chinese diaspora culture. I hope that this film will help the parents of LGBT youths – including my own – understand their children and themselves better. We all want to love or be loved, and it is the time that we recognize each other as human beings.