Stranger Says: If you had a fatal disease, would you want to know? This question lies at the heart of a 2016 This American Life segment called “What You Don’t Know” by Lulu Wang. Her 80-year-old grandmother, known as Nai Nai, had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and given three months to live. Her family decided not to tell her she was sick at all. Now Wang has written and directed a film, The Farewell, based on her family’s experience. It features Awkwafina, the wonderful rapper and actor, in her first starring role. In order to keep the diagnosis from the grandmother but still allow loved ones to say goodbye, the family in the film stages an elaborate ruse of a wedding. Everyone can come see Nai Nai one last time without having to tell her the truth about why, and they can hopefully create a positive situation to uplift her. But there is some concern that the relatives won’t be able to keep their emotions in check and spend time with Nai Nai without blowing the big secret. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
SIFF Says: Awkwafina, the flamboyant breakout star of CRAZY RICH ASIANS, plays a woman traveling back home to China to assist in an elaborate ruse to keep a truth from her terminally ill grandmother.