WATCH: Two Dads and a Family Torn Apart in New Film

In the Family Director Patrick Wang talks to us about rejection, marriage equality, and whether kids are in his future.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

August 30 2012 5:00 AM ET

Tell me about your background. Do you have a partner or spouse? Children?  
I don't have a partner or children now. Both would be wonderful in the future.

This is a pretty amazing debut film. Why do you think the film is relevant to audiences right now?
Thank you. I think there is a special place for the film now as the vulnerability of same-sex families is very prominent now, whether at the ballot box or immediately in people's lives. For those who may not feel this is their issue, I think the film is an invitation to walk in someone else's shoes and see what comes of that experience. I have been very happy to see a foreign issue transform into a very personal one for some audience members after viewing the movie. And for those living in the crosshairs of these issues, I hope the film can be a comfort. I recently met the nonbiological mother of a two-mom family. It meant a lot to her to see the fears she lives with every day portrayed in a realistic and sensitive way. The fears are obviously still there, but she feels a little less alone in navigating them.

Have you ever dealt with the kind of loss that Joey deals with in the film?
I hadn't at the time we shot the film, but my dad died a couple weeks after we finished shooting. I remember being in the editing room watching the scene where Joey and Chip come back from the memorial service with a very critical eye, thinking something would change now that I had been through that experience. But nothing was false about it, and some of the details were surprisingly prescient. I think imagination and the exercise of sympathies can go a long way to filling in the gaps of our actual experience. Thank goodness, or writers would be so limited in the content of their works.

In the film race doesn’t really feature even though Joey is obviously an Asian-American Tennessee native, which we don’t often see in film or TV. Did you make a choice not to address it?
I think the film does address it, but it doesn't talk about it. Race hangs in the air, very pointedly in some moments. I remember thinking that those who have faced issues of racial discrimination would be more tuned to pick up on these subtle moments, but I've been surprised how pretty much everyone notices them and gets them. The beauty of modern drama is that we can address ideas in dimensions far richer than sentences. Instead of terminology, we can curate context and psychology to arrive at our insights. 

Tags: film

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