Saving Face


Alice Wu

90 minutes | 2004 | Fiction | English and Mandarin Chinese | English Subtitles
35mm Film

2005 Golden Horse Film Festival | Viewer’s Choice Award

9 PM, TUE, AUG 16
Innis Town Hall

For 28-year old New Yorker Wilhelmina “Wil” Pang (Michelle Krusiec), life is a juggling act between a promising career as a surgeon and her responsibilities as a dutiful daughter. Like the #7 train she takes to visit her Chinese family on a weekly basis, Wil is perpetually in transit between two worlds. The expectations of the Flushing, Queens society she is from and the desires that alienate her from it have made Wil content to live below the surface — even if it means playing an inadvertent game of charades with her widowed mother (Joan Chen) and the old world Ma represents. The masquerade is comic even in its pain as Wil tolerates Ma’s weekly set ups with eligible Chinese-American boys at the Friday Chinese socials; but it quickly becomes a farce when Ma’s mask cracks first.

One night, Wil comes home to find Ma on her doorstep – pregnant. Disgraced by the Chinese community, and with no where else to go, Ma moves in with her daughter, making it difficult for Wil to nurture a budding relationship with gorgeous dancer Vivian (Lynn Chen). As her carefully compartmentalized worlds collide, Wil is forced to find her mother a husband, placate her girlfriend, and choose between breaking a cycle of keeping up appearances, or risk losing the girl she loves. SAVING FACE is a romantic comedy about a daughter struggling to understand her mother’s heart, which ultimately allows her to understand her own. It is the story of unspoken loves, contemporary and cultural taboos, and the journey of two women towards living their lives honestly.


Alice Wu was born and raised in San Jose, California and is now based in New York City. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science at Stanford University. She directed the short film TRICK OR TREAT (2002) before her first feature, SAVING FACE (2004).



  • Director: Alice Wu
  • Principal Cast: Joan Chen, Lynn Chen, Michelle Krusiec
  • Producer: Teddy Zee, James Lassiter, Will Smith
  • Executive Producer: Robin O’Hara, Scott Macauley
  • Screenplay: Alice Wu
  • Cinematographer: Harlan Bosmajian
  • Editor: Susan Graef, Sabine Hoffman
  • Production Designer: Dan Ouellette
  • Sound: Noah Timan
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