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Crazy Rich Asians Star Awkwafina Featured in Phoenix Film Festival Finale

Awkwafina (center) stars in The Farewell, which has been selected as the closing night film of the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival.
Awkwafina (center) stars in The Farewell, which has been selected as the closing night film of the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival.
Courtesy of A24 studio
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The closing night film for the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival, The Farewell, features one of the stars of Crazy Rich Asians in her first dramatic leading role.

The Farewell will screen at the festival on Sunday, April 14, at 7 p.m., organizers announced in a press release Wednesday

Rapper and comedic actress Awkwafina, also known for her music hit "The Vag," plays Billi, a Chinese-American writer whose grandmother doesn't know she has terminal lung cancer. The family doesn't tell her about the diagnosis, instead concocting a wedding reunion in the grandmother's native China so that everyone can say farewell.

"I felt a very personal connect (to the story)," Awkwafina said during an IMDB interview at the Sundance Film Festival, where the movie premiered. "I didn't know that I could make the cross (to drama). But what ties all actors together is empathy ... and it was an empathy orgy."

The plot is based on director and writer Lulu Wang's real life, a story she first recounted on NPR's This American Life podcast. She said the ruse to get her grandmother to China was bizarre.

"As an immigrant, I've always been in between. You have your failing on one side and the culture you grew up in, which is America, on the other side," Wang said during the Sundance interview. "So I had to actually ask my American friends, 'This is crazy, isn't it. I'm not crazy ... because my family is making me feel like I'm the crazy one."

The Farewell will screen at the Phoenix Film Festival on Sunday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit the festival website. It also stars veteran Chinese character actor Tzi Ma, known for Arrival and Man in the High Castle, among his many roles.

The 11-day festival begins Thursday, April 4, at Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatres located at 7000 East Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix.

Ticket prices range from $15 for a single screening to $450 for a platinum pass. For more information, call 602-955-6444.

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