Wayne Wang’s ‘Soul of a Banquet’ to Kick Off MIFF’s Culinary Cinema Program

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l to r: filmmaker Wayne Wang; Cecilia Chiang, Alice Waters in Soul of a Banquet
Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) is partnering with Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival to bring you the premiere of San Francisco-based filmmaker Wayne Wang’s latest film, Soul of a Banquet, on Sunday, February 23, 2014 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Miami Beach SoundScape’s soaring, 7,000-square-foot projection wall. The event will kick-off the 2nd year of MIFF’s Lee Brian Schrager’s Culinary Cinema program, curated by Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Schrager, continuing at MIFF’s 31st edition (March 7-16, 2014).

Noted for his recurrent depictions of Chinese culture, Wayne Wang, has enjoyed a successful career alternating between high profile Hollywood studio fare and personal independent works. Born in Hong Kong, after his family fled from China following the Communist takeover in 1947, Wang was named after his father’s favorite movie star, John Wayne.  He graduated from Wah Yan Jesuit High School and came to the U.S. at the age of 17 to study film at California College of the Arts And Crafts in Oakland.

Chan is Missing (1982), The Joy Luck Club (1993), Smoke (1995)
Wang’s first feature film was his graduate student project, A Man, A Woman, A Killer, co-directed with Rick Schmidt. He returned to Hong Kong with a Masters degree and went to work at the public broadcasting outlet R.T.H. (Radio and Television Hong Kong), which had become a launching pad for young film school trained directors known as the Hong Kong New Wave.

He then moved to San Francisco and worked for a time with new immigrants from Asia. The experience inspired his second feature film, the critically acclaimed Chan is Missing, in which he used a thriller plot as a vehicle to explore social conflicts and political divisions in Chinatown. Made in 16mm black and white for only $27,000, Chan is Missing was a decade ahead of the recent wave of micro-budget successes such as El Mariachi and Clerks.

Anywhere But Here (1999), Maid in Manhattan (2002), Last Holiday (2006)
His rich filmography also includes The Joy Luck Club (1993), an extremely popular film adapted from the best-selling novel by Amy Tan; the multi-award winning Smoke (1995) starring Harvey Keitel, William Hurt and Forrest Whitaker, which won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for France’s Cesar Award for Best Foreign Film; Anyhwere But Here, starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman; box office hits Maid in Manhattan (2002), starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes; and Last Holiday (2006), starring Queen LatifahSoul of a Banquet marks Wang’s 20th feature film credit and is his tribute to Cecilia Chiang, who changed the face of Chinese food in America when she opened The Mandarin in San Francisco in 1961.  — Tatyana Chiocchetti

Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.