Grannies From Doc Short Nominee ‘Nai Nai & Wài Pó’ Feel ‘So Seen and Loved’ | Video

Sean Wang’s loving ode to his grandmothers was a finalist in TheWrap’s ShortList 2023. Now it has an Oscar nomination

On Tuesday, Sean Wang’s “Nai Nai & Wài Pó” received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Short. The film is a loving look at Wang’s two grandmothers, who are best friends and live together. It was also a finalist in TheWrap’s 2023 ShortList Film Festival, and winner of the audience award.

Wang shot the film in the Bay Area in spring of 2021, when hate crimes against Asians were on the rise. “For the first time since leaving home, I was spending months under the same roof as my two grandmothers and I would see them and hang out with them and their sort of quotidian rhythms of life,” Wang told TheWrap Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman at Sundance this month, where Wang’s feature debut, “Didi,” was playing.

He enjoyed watching them “wash fruit or read the newspaper. And also they would dance with me and it would be very silly. And fun. And those sorts of really pure emotions of happiness and joy and humor and slapstick were contrasted by a lot of anti-Asian hate crimes that were happening in our country at the time, especially in the Bay Area, where I’m from. And so it was this weird feeling of being super angry and then going to see them, and they show me nothing but love and joy.”

“Nai Nai & Wài Pó” isn’t the first title to come out of TheWrap’s ShortList fest and go on to score an Oscar nomination — or even a win. The first was “The Phone Call” in 2014, followed by “Bear Story in 2015,” which both won the Oscar. Then came “Sister” in 2019. (There was also the César-winning “Maman(s)” and shorts that went became features (“Thunder Road,” “The Last Black Man in San Francisco“) and a TV series (“SMILF“). 

After the Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, Wang said in a statement, “Despite being a combined 182 years old, Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó have infectious youthful spirits, and together we made a film that humanizes and honors them. Thank you to the Academy for acknowledging our film and helping these one-of-a-kind women in my life feel seen.”

Those two one-of-a-kind women, Nǎi Nai (Yi Yan Fuei) and Wài Pó (Chang Li Hua), also weighed in: “When our grandson asked if he could make a film about us, we thought he was crazy. We said ‘who would want to watch a movie about us?’ And now, the fact that the film has brought joy to so many, it’s a happiness we could have never imagined. We feel so seen and loved. Now we have to find something to wear.”

Below, Wang’s video of him and his family learning the film had been nominated.

Find the full list of 2024 Oscar nominees here.


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