“Bless his heart,” actor Sterling K. Brown said of West. “Bless his heart,” echoed co-star Renée Elise Goldsberry.
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Brown explained that writer-director Trey Edward Shults’ script came with music embedded in it, through links in the text.
“As you read the script you could hit a button, listen to a song. So the script had a song track to it,” he commented. “First time I’ve ever encountered that. It was awesome. And almost all of the music that was in the original script made it into the film.”
“Which was a testament to the film that Kanye, for example, gave so much music,” Goldsberry added. “It’s beautiful because we get attached to the marriage of the music and the story and without the gift of their offering of that music we would have missed it.”
In the drama set in suburban South Florida, Brown plays Ronald, a stern but well-meaning father trying to keep his family together after the loss of his wife. Goldsberry stars as his new wife, stepmom to Ronald’s two children (Taylor Russell and Kelvin Harrison Jr.).
Waves premiered at Telluride before heading to the Toronto International Film Festival. It opens in theaters in mid-November.
“Please come see the movie,” Brown urged the audience. “Tell a friend.”
A substantial audience has already come out to see A24 contender The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang, which has earned nearly $18 million since its release over the summer.
Awkwafina, in her first big dramatic role, plays Billi, a Chinese-born woman raised in Florida who learns her grandmother back in China has only a short time to live. Billi and her family travel to Changchun to say farewell under the guise of attending a wedding, but Billi is under strict orders not to tell her Nai Nai she’s terminally ill, lest it shorten her life even more.
Wang wrote the film around events that took place in her own family—The Farewell describes itself as “based on a true lie.”
“It’s a very personal, very specific story,” Wang commented. “So in many ways we thought well, if it limits our audience that’s okay because we’re really making it for the people that come from where we come from and kind of feel marginalized in America as an American. Definitely wasn’t expecting it to go so wide and I was just hoping it got into Sundance.”
Which it did, going on to win awards at film festivals including Atlanta, Cinetopia, the Heartland Film Festival and Sundance London.
The film is in English and Chinese. Awkwafina joked about her command of her second language.
“My Chinese is not good,” she insisted. “White people, they always tell me, ‘Oh, it was really good.’ I’m like, ‘Thank you.’”
Awkwafina recalled filming a key scene on location in China with Shuzhen Zhou, who plays her grandmother, a spectacle that attracted some unexpected attention.
“We were shooting the goodbye scene which is [a] very heavy scene which is where we’re saying goodbye in the end and there was this group of hecklers that gathered around us because we were shooting in like an active apartment complex,” she said. “This group of hecklers at first were blowing raspberries and laughing, giggling. And then halfway through the scene it’s like I just heard silence. Then I looked up and they were all crying. They weren’t close enough to hear what we were saying but I think the imagery of someone hugging their grandma goodbye, it moved them. It was emotional all around.”