In 'The Farewell,' a family drama straddling East and West

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang, right, and actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote their film, "The Farewell." (Photo by B

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang, right, and actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote their film, "The Farewell." (Photo by B

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This June 12, 2019 photo shows actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This June 12, 2019 photo shows actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This image released by A24 shows Awkwafina, center, in a scene from "The Farewell." (A24 via AP)

This image released by A24 shows Awkwafina, center, in a scene from "The Farewell." (A24 via AP)

This image released by A24 shows Awkwafina, in a scene from "The Farewell." (Casi Moss/A24 via AP)

This image released by A24 shows Awkwafina, in a scene from "The Farewell." (Casi Moss/A24 via AP)

Actor Awkwafina, actor Hong Lu, writer-director Lulu Wang, actor Tzi Ma, actor Diana Lin and actor Aoi Mizuhara pose together at a special screening o

Actor Awkwafina, actor Hong Lu, writer-director Lulu Wang, actor Tzi Ma, actor Diana Lin and actor Aoi Mizuhara pose together at a special screening o

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang, right, and actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote their film, "The Farewell." (Photo by B

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang, right, and actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote their film, "The Farewell." (Photo by B

Actors Diana Lin, left, Hong Lu and writer-director Lulu Wang pose together at a special screening of "The Farewell" at Metrograph on Monday, July 8,

Actors Diana Lin, left, Hong Lu and writer-director Lulu Wang pose together at a special screening of "The Farewell" at Metrograph on Monday, July 8,

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang, left, and actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote their film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Br

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang, left, and actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote their film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Br

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This June 12, 2019 photo shows filmmaker Lulu Wang posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This June 12, 2019 photo shows actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This June 12, 2019 photo shows actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This June 12, 2019 photo shows actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

This June 12, 2019 photo shows actress Awkwafina posing in New York to promote her film, "The Farewell." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — The film director Lulu Wang knew her pitch for "The Farewell" might not go over well. She wanted to make an American film set in China, largely subtitled in Mandarin.

And yet "The Farewell" not only eventually got a green light, but after Wang unveiled it earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, it sparked a bidding war and emerged as one of the breakthroughs in American independent cinema this year.

Wang's film is introduced as "based on an actual lie." In 2013, her family learned that her grandmother in China had stage 4 lung cancer and was given three months to live. They decided not to tell her, and instead sought to make her last days a celebration.

"The Farewell" opens in limited release Friday.