Emily Ting on Family, Revisiting Home, and “Go Back to China”

Emily Ting Go Back to China Anna Akana (L) and Emily Ting (R) on the set of "Go Back to China."

Welcome back to More of a Comment, Really…, a weekly interview podcast hosted by Clint Worthington! Every episode will feature interviews with actors, filmmakers, producers, and more, giving you the skinny on the latest films and TV.

When Chinese-American filmmaker Emily Ting was in her twenties, her father summoned her back to China to help out with the family business, where she stayed for over a decade. Not only was it a formative experience for Ting herself, it formed the basis for her second narrative feature, last year’s SXSW favorite Go Back to China, which is currently playing in limited release (and, if you’re in Chicago, is playing at Facets Cinematheque this weekend). The tale of a spoiled fashion school graduate (YouTuber Anna Akana) forced to return home to work at her father’s (Richard Ng) toy company, Go Back to China is a slight, but extremely warm-hearted and incisive look at the cultural rifts between Chinese and American culture, and the conflicting bonds of family and responsibility.

Fitting with her personal connection to the material, Ting’s approach is intimate and approachable, never veering outside the confines of artifice. She, with the help of winning performances from Akana and Ng (as well as Lynn Chen as the family’s put-upon sister), maintains a laser focus on her characters’ idiosyncrasies and the bone-deep resentments that they have to reconcile.

Leading up to the film’s wider release, I sat down with Emily Ting to talk about the ways Go Back to China dovetails with her personal life, the challenges that come with directing a second feature, and the strides Asian-American cinema has been making in the past few years.

(More of a Comment, Really… is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Overcast for sponsoring this episode!)

Go Back to China Trailer:

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