Ang Lee A Multinational Renaissance Man
Ang Lee—A multinational renaissance man • Born in Taiwan in 1954. • In 1978, after finishing mandatory military service, Lee came to the U.S.: • Obtained B.A. in theater at University of Illinois, and met his future wife, Jane Lin, also a Taiwanese immigrant • Obtained M.F.A. at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Worked on fellow student Spike Lee’s student film, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads • His own thesis work, a 43-minute drama, Fine Line (1984), won NYU's Wasserman Award for Outstanding Direction, and he was signed by the William Morris Talent Agency
Ang Lee—A multinational renaissance man • But Lee found few opportunities for an Asian film director in the U.S. He looked back to Taiwan. • After winning a Taiwanese-based screenplay competition, he was able to produce Pushing Hands in 1991. • This was the first film of his so-called “Father Knows Best” trilogy, all of which were Chinese-language and Taiwan-based; The three films show the Confucian family at risk and star the late Taiwanese actor SihungLung (click for trailers): • Pushing Hands (1991)—An elderly Chinese t’ai chi teacher emigrates to NYC and struggles with acculturation and changes in family roles • The Wedding Banquet (1993)—A gay Taiwanese immigrant to NYC marries a Chinese woman to placate his traditional parents • Received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film • Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)—A chef and father of three young adult daughters deals with the changing family roles that emerge as each find her mate; food as motif • Also received an Academy Award nomination • Lee’s first English-language film was Sense and Sensibility in 1995, a U.S./U.K. film adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. • The rest, as they say, is [movie] history.
Ang Lee—A multinational renaissance man [From a NYT interview] • He and his wife Jane sent their sons to public school. Haan, born in 1984, and Mason, born in 1990, graduated from Mamaroneck High School. “We’re not private school types,” Lee said. “We wanted to lead a very grounded, normal life. That’s what Jane likes.” • While Mr. Lee is in charge of the kitchen, Jane Lin rules the roost, he said. “Jane runs the house — she has her three boys” to order around. • The couple moved to Westchester in January 1986 so that Mr. Lee could be close to New York City and Ms. Lin could take a job in Valhalla at New York Medical College, where she is a professor of pathology. • They live in Larchmont, NY, and raise chickens in their back yard.
Ang Lee—A multinational renaissance man • Lee travels extensively to direct his films: • Many months in Taiwan shooting his early films (e.g., four months for Eat Drink Man Woman, 1994), while his wife and children continued living in New York • England for Sense and Sensibility (1995) • Kansas City, MO, for Ride with the Devil (1999) • Months in mainland China shooting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) • The Canadian Rockies for Brokeback Mountain (2005)(Lee became the first non-white to win an Oscar for Best Director) • Back to China for Lust, Caution (2007) • Taiwan and India for Life of Pi (2012)—but also a lot of CGI (he won another Oscar, as Best Director) • But he stays close to home for editing, using a postproduction facility in Rye, NY