Saving Face

Director: Alice Wu
Screenwriters: Alice Wu

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Director Alice Wu establishes herself as a fresh new American voice with this wonderfully executed romantic comedy of manners. Her debut feature, Saving Face, is a delightful and inspired addition to the roster of films that take on the dynamics of family and love amidst clashing traditional and contemporary mores.

Wil and her Ma come from a traditional Chinese family in Flushing, Queens. At first glance, Wil is the picture of the perfect traditional Chinese daughter—a successful surgeon who is dutiful to her widowed mother. The only thing is that Wil dresses a little, well, not right. In fact, at the weekly Chinese singles dance, Wil seems not to be interested in men at all. It turns out that she is secretly struggling to land her first lesbian date with Vivian, a gorgeous ballet dancer. But just when things are looking up, the 48-year old Ma lands on her doorstep announcing that she is pregnant and moving in. Ma has a secret of her own, refusing to name the father for fear of disgracing herself in the eyes of her traditional community.

The emotional tones of desire, humiliation, jubilation, and confusion are richly inhabited by a wonderful cast led by the radiant Joan Chen. With Saving Face, Wu and her team have ultimately crafted an infectiously warm, sexy, and heartfelt tale about what it means to live life honestly.

(Archives note: see also 's Meet The Artist interview on our YouTube Channel.)

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]