Eddie Rubin’s new project, The Farewell, explores family love and loss, bringing local producer to a beautiful story about Chinese culture.
Eddie Rubin didn’t have to move to Hollywood to become a film producer. He is managing that career out of a home office in West Bloomfield, albeit with lots of travel.
His latest project, The Farewell, took him to China, where he experienced cultural elements different from his Jewish background but shared in the universal emotions expressed through the project.
The film, opening July 26 at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak and the Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township, was written and directed by Lulu Wang, who based the storyline on issues in her own family.
“Lulu’s experiences were described in an NPR podcast before they were turned into a movie by Big Beach and Depth of Field, an independent production company,” says Rubin, who connected with Wang and Big Beach producers at a film festival. “It’s a beautiful story about love and loss.
“Lulu’s grandmother, living in China, was diagnosed with cancer, and family members who had moved to other countries wanted to visit her. The woman didn’t know about her diagnosis and some relatives believed if they showed up unannounced the grandmother would know something was up.
“To deal with this issue, they came up with a ruse. A cousin, who had been dating someone for a very short period of time, says he is going to marry in China so they could all go under the guise of this wedding.”
The lead character, played by Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), essentially is telling Lulu’s story, showing the struggles in deciding if they should tell the woman about the illness. Some in China, Rubin explains, were raised to believe that if you don’t know you’re sick, you get better.
Rubin says the film also delves into the cultural changes the returning family members encounter after being away for some time. That adds to the movie’s depth by exploring the remembrance of a homeland and defining what home is.
Segments of the film are spoken in Mandarin with English subtitles.
As it opened on the coasts recently, the film garnered stellar reviews from Variety, Rolling Stone, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly and more; and it was a standout at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in the year. And forbes.com suggests the film may be the summer’s surprise hit.
Rubin, 32, is a BBYO adviser and grew up attending Congregation B’nai Moshe in West Bloomfield. He and his wife, Michelle, have a young daughter. He believes his early success as a producer — even working on a film in his sophomore year at the University of Michigan — comes from persistence, a positive message he wants to impart to young people.
The filmmaker says he can consistently move on despite any rejection and is proud of his completed projects. Besides Million Dollars, a music video for Big Sean, he can look back on dramatized productions, including Mooz-lum starring Danny Glover and Love and Honor featuring Austin Stowell and Liam Hemsworth.
“My responsibilities as executive producer for The Farewell were the merging of the creative and the financial interests,” Rubin says. “I had to figure out, with the budget we had, how to pull certain things off and keep production moving day to day.”
He says he was honored to work with veteran producers Dani Melia, Peter Saraf, Anita Gou, Andrew Miano, Jane Zheng and the Weitz brothers.
Rubin, whose recent travels have taken him from New Mexico to Morocco in evaluating movie possibilities, invited his mom, Edythe Rubin of Farmington Hills, to see a preview of The Farewell.
“I asked her if she would want me to tell her if she had a serious illness or let her live out her life,” he says, still impacted by this latest movie. “It’s a very tough question, and she really wasn’t able to answer it. I can see both sides.”
The Farewell begins July 26 at the Main Art Theatre, Royal Oak, (248) 542-5198 and the Maple Theater, Bloomfield Twp, (248) 750-1030. Eddie Rubin will be doing Q&As at the Maple after 7 p.m. screenings July 26-27.