Program Detail

White Frog

Quentin Lee / USA / 2012 / 93 min / English / Color / HDCAM* / World Premiere


Last summer, the online media sphere was spinning with the curious and enticing question, “Who is the White Frog?” Such excitement was for Quentin Lee’s latest achievement, White Frog. A career-defining work for Lee, whose Flow remains a key moment in the history of Asian American cinema, the film boasts some of the most influential and recognizable Asian American talent today, including Harry Shum Jr. (Glee), B.D. Wong (Law and Order) and Joan Chen (this year’s Festival Honoree). It also features a tour-de-force performance by Hollywood’s newest breakout star, Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga).

In a picturesque and unassuming suburb, high-school freshman Nick (Stewart) is trying to find his place in life. From an outsider’s view, he has the perfect family, with a loving, stay-at-home mother (Chen), successful father (Wong), and an athletic, charming older brother (Shum Jr). Inside the home, however, things are different: Nick, living with Asperger’s syndrome, is often neglected and misunderstood by his family. When tragedy suddenly strikes, Nick is forced out of his comfort zone, and into finding the strength he needs to survive.

Akin to films such as Ordinary People and Stand By Me, White Frog remixes the coming-of-age formula and the melodrama genre with its complex, bold Asian American characters and themes, with an adult script that exposes the pervasive issues that plague our communities. At times heart wrenching and emotional, the film still finds time for moments of welcome humor to leaven the mood, while a stellar soundtrack adds to the work’s lush spell.

An all-star production both in front of and behind the camera (including David Henry Hwang as executive producer), White Frog and its inspirational story were brought to life by a mother-and-daughter screenwriting duo, Fabienne and Ellie Wen. Director Quentin Lee (The People I’ve Slept With, SFIAAFF ’10; Ethan Mao, SFIAAFF ‘04) here confirms his standing as one of American cinema’s master storytellers, focusing on the key messages of the film: the universal power of family and friendship, and the importance of loving everyone for whom they are. To circle back to the question that started it all, “Who is the White Frog?” Well, there is only one way to find out…

-Masashi Niwano

Attending guests (3/8): Harry Shum Jr. (Actor), Joan Chen (Actress), B.D. Wong (Actor), Quentin Lee (Director), Ellie Wen (Producer), Chris Lee (Producer), David Henry Hwang (Executive Producer),
Co-presenters: Gay Asian Pacific Alliance GAPA, Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club, 4C The Power


  • Director: Quentin Lee
  • Executive Producer: David Henry Hwang, Kevin Iwashina
  • Producer: Chris Lee, Joel Soisson, Ellie Wen
  • Cinematographer: Yasu Tanida
  • Writer: Fabienne Wen, Ellie Wen
  • Editor: Matthew Rundell
  • Cast: Booboo Stewart, B.D. Wong, Harry Shum Jr., Joan Chen


March 8, 2012 7:00 pm
Castro Theater
Tickets not currently on sale

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