The Wedding Banquet (1993)

112 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 1993

Director:

Ang Lee

Cinematographer:

Jong Lin

Editor:

Tim Squyres

Production Designer:

Steve Rosenzweig

Production Companies:

Central Motion Pictures, Good Machine
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HISTORY


       The Wedding Banquet marked Ang Lee’s first feature film to be theatrically released in the United States. The script was partly inspired by a story Lee’s co-writer, Neil Peng, told about a mutual friend from Taiwan who was gay and living with his partner in the United States, unbeknownst to his Taiwanese parents. A 4 Aug 1993 LAT article stated that the script for The Wedding Banquet as well as Lee’s screenplay for Pushing Hands (1995, see entry), won a 1990 Taiwanese national screenwriting competition. The film received funding from the Central Motion Pictures Corporation, a Taiwanese company, along with a grant from the government of Taiwan, as stated in a 1 Feb 1994 HR article.
       An article in the fall 1992 issue of Filmmaker announced that filming began 27 Jul 1992. Production notes from AMPAS library files stated that the film was shot entirely on location in New York City in five weeks. According to the end credits, locations included the Sheraton LaGuardia East, Park Avenue Physical Therapy Clinic, Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, Powerhouse Gym, Nancy Wedding Center, Hair Society, Socrates Sculpture Park, Trans World Airlines, China Airlines, WMC New Yorker, and The New York Downtown Hospital. In an 8 Jun 1993 HR article, writer-producer James Schamus credited free locations with keeping the production within budget. Also to save money, the film was shot with non-union cast and crew, with the exception of one “teamster” who worked in transportation. Though HR claimed the budget was $400,000, several contemporary sources, including the 1 Feb 1994 HR article and ... More Less


       The Wedding Banquet marked Ang Lee’s first feature film to be theatrically released in the United States. The script was partly inspired by a story Lee’s co-writer, Neil Peng, told about a mutual friend from Taiwan who was gay and living with his partner in the United States, unbeknownst to his Taiwanese parents. A 4 Aug 1993 LAT article stated that the script for The Wedding Banquet as well as Lee’s screenplay for Pushing Hands (1995, see entry), won a 1990 Taiwanese national screenwriting competition. The film received funding from the Central Motion Pictures Corporation, a Taiwanese company, along with a grant from the government of Taiwan, as stated in a 1 Feb 1994 HR article.
       An article in the fall 1992 issue of Filmmaker announced that filming began 27 Jul 1992. Production notes from AMPAS library files stated that the film was shot entirely on location in New York City in five weeks. According to the end credits, locations included the Sheraton LaGuardia East, Park Avenue Physical Therapy Clinic, Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, Powerhouse Gym, Nancy Wedding Center, Hair Society, Socrates Sculpture Park, Trans World Airlines, China Airlines, WMC New Yorker, and The New York Downtown Hospital. In an 8 Jun 1993 HR article, writer-producer James Schamus credited free locations with keeping the production within budget. Also to save money, the film was shot with non-union cast and crew, with the exception of one “teamster” who worked in transportation. Though HR claimed the budget was $400,000, several contemporary sources, including the 1 Feb 1994 HR article and the 4 Aug 1993 NYT article, stated that the film cost $750,000.
       According to production notes, The Wedding Banquet was first screened publicly at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it tied with Xie Fei’s Woman Sesame Oil Maker for the Golden Bear Award. The 1 Feb 1994 HR article reported that different eligibility rules allowed the film to receive both an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film, representing Taiwan, and a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award as an American film; Independent Feature Project/West, the organization behind the Independent Spirit Awards, required that an American serve in at least two of three principal roles (Writer, Director, Producer) for a film to qualify, and American writer-producer James Schamus fulfilled the requirements.
       A 19 Mar 1993 Screen International news item announced that the Samuel Goldwyn Company purchased U.S. distribution rights “for an advance of at least $750,000” after a bidding war with several other independent distributors. To that time, distribution had also been set for twenty-one additional territories, including Italy, Spain, and Germany.
       Critical reception for the film was mostly positive, though the 26 Feb 1993 DV review criticized the tone as “a tad glib” and stated that the homosexual relationship between the main characters was overshadowed by the Chinese cultural issues and “the escalating comedy of errors.”
       In Taiwan, the film took in $4 million at the box office, as reported in the 1 Aug 1993 NYT article, and production notes stated that it was the most successful “box office hit in Taiwanese history” to that time. In the United States, The Wedding Banquet became the most profitable film of 1993 in terms of “percentage of return on its cost,” as it took in $23.6 million in box-office receipts, and cost only $1 million to make, according to a 15 Jan 1994 L. B. Press-Telegram news item.
       At Taiwan’s Golden Horse awards, the film received: Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Sihung Lung), Best Supporting Actress (Ah-Leh Gua), Best Screenplay, and “an audience award for most popular film,” as stated in an 8 Dec 1993 DV announcement.

       End credits include a “Special Thanks” to the following individuals and organizations: Ying Hung – May Chin’s painting instructor; Jeff Frederick; Bruce Cooley; Ulf Radtke; William Chou; Tsan-Ting Lin; Xeno Lights – Andrew Falk & Rocco Palmieri; General Camera – Scott Fleischman & Sal Giarratano; New York Raw Stock Exchange – Mike Wallach & Rich Kalinsky; DuArt Film and Video – Linda Young & Tim Spitzer; Rebo Studio – Michael Danbrow & Clint Cowles; Panavision – Frank Hong, Phil Radin and Tak Miyagishima; Courier Car Rental – Bob and Jack; Sheraton La Guardia East – Douglas Topous, Dean Li & Tony Hsien; Chinese Culture Center; Sound One – Bill Nisselson and Stephanie Sacripante. Also in the end credits, director Ang Lee gives special thanks to: Shan Lee, Su-Tsung Yung, and Jane Lin. A dedication follows which reads: “To N. Yu and his longtime companion B. Geyer.”


The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Kathy Morrow, a student at University of Washington, Seattle, with Jennifer Bean as academic advisor.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1993
p. 68.
Daily Variety
8 Dec 1993.
---
Filmmaker
Fall 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1994
p. 1, 77.
L. B. Press-Telegram
15 Jan 1994.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Aug 1993
p. 1.
New York Times
1 Aug 1993
Section A, p. 25.
New York Times
4 Aug 1993
p. 1.
New York Times
4 Aug 1993
Section C, p. 18.
Screen International
19 Mar 1993.
---
Variety
1 Mar 1993
p. 58.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Ang Lee Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Scr
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Wedding album photog
Gaffer
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
3d elec
3d elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
3d grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art prod asst
Art prod asst
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Negative cutting
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Prop master
Addl props
Wei Wei's paintings by
Wei Wei's paintings by
Props prod asst
Set decorations
Robert Gaul
Set decorations
Eric Decker
Set decorations
Maryann Scaraglino
Set decorations
Set decorations
Set decorations
Lewis Marra
Set decorations
Set decorations
Set decorations
Set decorations
Set decorations
Set decorations
Set decorations
Set decorations
Properties
Properties
Properties
Properties
Properties
Properties
Properties
New York
Properties
Properties
Charlie Lau
Properties
Properties
and family
Properties
Properties
Properties
Properties
Properties
Properties
St. Mary's, PA
Properties
Properties
Properties
Properties
Jung-Cheng Liang
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Comp
Mus eng and mixed by
Mus business affairs
Source mus supv
Orig mus wrt, arr and prod by
© Loon Music, 1992
Pipa, Raun and Guzheng played by
Di and Shao played by
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Cable puller
Post prod mixer
Post prod mixer
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup/Hair stylist
Asst makeup/Hair stylist
Addl makeup/Hair stylist
Addl makeup/Hair stylist
Addl makeup/Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Line prod
Exec in charge of prod
Scr supv
Asst scr supv
Prod coord
Asst coord
Auditor
Asst to Mr. Lee
Asst to Mr. Hope
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Parking coord
Loc scout
Catering
Casting dir [American]
Casting dir [American]
Extras casting [American]
Extras casting [Chinese]
Extras casting coord
Transportation capt
Product placement coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc prod asst
Parking asst
Parking asst
Parking asst
Parking asst
Parking asst
Post prod supv
Post prod delivery coord
Post prod asst
Legal counsel
Subtitles by
Subtitles by
Air transportation provided by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timing
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Virgenes del Sol," by Jorge Bravo de Rueda, performed by Cesar Hernan Olascuaga, arranged by Cesar Hernan Olascuaga
"The Maiden's Prayer," performed by Kwan-Yu Chen, written by Badarzewsea
"Piano Sonata KV. 331 in A Major - Third Movement - Turkish March," performed by Kwan-Yu Chen, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
SONGS
"Outside Looking In," performed by Fondlesocket, written by Ben O'Hagan, © Ben O'Hagan, 1991
"Quisiera Ser," performed by Louis Shati, written by Jorge Pineiro, published by Rasman Music (ASCAP)
"Diamond and Stone," performed by May Chin and Ang-Go Tong, lyrics by Yu-Zwei Liu, music by Ang-Go Tong, with permission of Polygram Records Ltd., Taiwan
+
SONGS
"Outside Looking In," performed by Fondlesocket, written by Ben O'Hagan, © Ben O'Hagan, 1991
"Quisiera Ser," performed by Louis Shati, written by Jorge Pineiro, published by Rasman Music (ASCAP)
"Diamond and Stone," performed by May Chin and Ang-Go Tong, lyrics by Yu-Zwei Liu, music by Ang-Go Tong, with permission of Polygram Records Ltd., Taiwan
"Wordless Ending," performed by Su-Zung Lin and Su-Fang Lo, lyrics by Kar Su, music by Ming-Zwei Liu, with permission of Feeling Records Ltd., Taiwan.
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DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Hsi Yen
Release Date:
1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 4 August 1993
Production Date:
began 27 July 1992
Copyright Claimant:
Central Motion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
30 April 1993
Copyright Number:
PA659871
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by DuArt
gauge
35mm
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision cameras and lenses
Duration(in mins):
112
Countries:
Taiwan, United States
Languages:
Mandarin, English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Wai Tung Gao, a real estate owner and landlord in New York City, visits Wei Wei, a tenant who recently emigrated from Shanghai, China. Wei Wei complains about the lack of air conditioning in her unit and asks about Simon, Wai Tung’s live-in boyfriend. As he leaves, Wai Tung accepts one of Wei Wei’s paintings as payment for three months’ rent. After work, Wai Tung tells Simon that his Chinese parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gao, have signed him up for another matchmaking service in order to find him a wife. In an effort to conceal his homosexuality to the Gaos, Wai Tung fills out a questionnaire for the matchmaking service by providing outlandish requirements for his ideal match. Against all odds, the group quickly locates a multi-lingual opera singer with a doctorate degree named Mao Mei, and the Gaos arrange for her to fly from Taiwan to meet Wai Tung. When she arrives in New York, Mao Mei inadvertently divulges that Wai Tung’s father, who lives in Taiwan, has recently suffered a stroke; however, she says Mr. Gao’s health has improved, and he claims that his desire to have a grandchild is fueling his recovery. At a restaurant, Wai Tung and Mao Mei run into Wei Wei, who becomes upset when she assumes Wai Tung is cheating on Simon. Mao Mei admits that she too has a boyfriend, but has not introduced him to her parents because he is white. Sometime later, Simon and Wai Tung deliver an air conditioner to Wei Wei, who is now unemployed, and they discuss her difficulties obtaining legal immigration status. That night, Simon suggests to Wai Tung that he marry Wei Wei, to ... +


Wai Tung Gao, a real estate owner and landlord in New York City, visits Wei Wei, a tenant who recently emigrated from Shanghai, China. Wei Wei complains about the lack of air conditioning in her unit and asks about Simon, Wai Tung’s live-in boyfriend. As he leaves, Wai Tung accepts one of Wei Wei’s paintings as payment for three months’ rent. After work, Wai Tung tells Simon that his Chinese parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gao, have signed him up for another matchmaking service in order to find him a wife. In an effort to conceal his homosexuality to the Gaos, Wai Tung fills out a questionnaire for the matchmaking service by providing outlandish requirements for his ideal match. Against all odds, the group quickly locates a multi-lingual opera singer with a doctorate degree named Mao Mei, and the Gaos arrange for her to fly from Taiwan to meet Wai Tung. When she arrives in New York, Mao Mei inadvertently divulges that Wai Tung’s father, who lives in Taiwan, has recently suffered a stroke; however, she says Mr. Gao’s health has improved, and he claims that his desire to have a grandchild is fueling his recovery. At a restaurant, Wai Tung and Mao Mei run into Wei Wei, who becomes upset when she assumes Wai Tung is cheating on Simon. Mao Mei admits that she too has a boyfriend, but has not introduced him to her parents because he is white. Sometime later, Simon and Wai Tung deliver an air conditioner to Wei Wei, who is now unemployed, and they discuss her difficulties obtaining legal immigration status. That night, Simon suggests to Wai Tung that he marry Wei Wei, to help her obtain a green card while simultaneously pleasing his parents, who want him to marry a woman. After Wai Tung agrees, Wei Wei moves into their apartment, and Simon teaches her intimate details about Wai Tung in case Immigration Services investigates their marriage. When the Gaos hear about their son’s engagement, they plan a visit to New York. Wei Wei and Wai Tung pick them up at the airport, and the Gaos approve of Wei Wei’s appearance and family background. At home, Wai Tung introduces Simon as his roommate and landlord. That night, the Gaos present Wei Wei with jewelry, an envelope of money, and a traditional Chinese dress called a chi-pao. Simon gives presents to Mr. and Mrs. Gao, but he accidentally says offensive things to them in broken Mandarin. Despite his parents’ wishes that he have a formal wedding, Wai Tung marries Wei Wei the next day in an quick ceremony at City Hall. Afterward, Mrs. Gao cries, apologizing to Wei Wei for failing to give her a proper wedding, and Simon tries to appease the Gaos by treating everyone to dinner at the China Palace restaurant. Coincidentally, the manager of the China Palace, Old Chen, served under Mr. Gao in the army. When Chen discovers that Wei Wei and Wai Tung have just been married, he insists on throwing them a wedding banquet. The day of the banquet, Wei Wei, in a formal wedding gown, and Wai Tung, in a tuxedo, take turns bowing before the Gaos. Mrs. Gao serves Wei Wei a special lotus soup meant to help her conceive a baby son. The family proceeds to a photography studio for portraits of the bride and groom. At the China Palace, Wei Wei and Wai Tung, accompanied by Simon and Mao Mei, make a grand entrance into a banquet hall filled with guests. During dinner, guests encourage the bride and groom to kiss and chastise Wai Tung for failing to announce his relationship sooner. Wei Wei and Wai Tung become drunk along with many of the guests. After the banquet, Simon takes the Gaos back to the apartment, while Wei Wei and Wai Tung spend the night in a hotel. As soon as the newlyweds reach their room, a large group of friends arrive to continue the festivities, setting up mahjong tables, drinking, and obligating Wai Tung and Wei Wei to play intimate games. Finally, the group says they will leave only after the couple gets into bed and removes their clothes. Once they are alone, Wei Wei initiates sex with Wai Tung despite his protests. After the wedding, Mr. Gao’s health does not permit the Gaos to return to Taiwan; thus, the Gaos continue to live at Wai Tung’s apartment, forcing him to continue the charade of being heterosexual. Wai Tung’s marriage has strained his relationship with Simon, and he fears Simon may be unfaithful. Meanwhile, Wei Wei suffers from depression. One morning, at breakfast, Wai Tung reveals to Simon that Wei Wei is pregnant. Simon, believing that the Gaos do not understand English, freely expresses his anger, arguing with Wei Wei and Wai Tung. That afternoon, Mr. Gao suffers a mild stroke. At the hospital, Wai Tung admits to his mother that he is gay and that Simon has been his partner for five years. He also explains that he married Wei Wei to please them and to help her gain residency. Mrs. Gao urges Wai Tung to keep this information from his father. Over time, Mr. Gao’s health improves, but tension runs high in the apartment. Simon tells Wai Tung he might leave him when the Gaos return to Taiwan. Though Mrs. Gao urges Wei Wei to have her baby, Wei Wei decides to have an abortion, explaining that she must think of her own future; however, on the way to the abortion clinic, she changes her mind. On a walk with Simon, Mr. Gao gives him an envelope of money for his birthday, and Simon realizes that Mr. Gao knows about and accepts his relationship with Wai Tung. Mr. Gao asks Simon not to tell the family, and admits that he urged Wai Tung to get married for the selfish reason that he wanted a grandchild. When Simon and Mr. Gao return to the house, Wai Tung and Wei Wei ask Simon to be a parent to their child, and Simon agrees. At the airport, before the Gao’s flight to Taiwan, everyone looks at the wedding pictures, and Mr. Gao expresses his gratitude to both Simon and Wei Wei.
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Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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