The not-Disney live-action version of Mulan won’t have an Asian director after all.
Deadline reports that Sony’s version of Mulan has found its director: Alex Graves, who hails from the TV industry and whose expansive resumé includes Game of Thrones, Fringe, The West Wing, Shameless and Homeland.
There are currently two live-action adaptations of Mulan brewing in Hollywood, and just last week, we reported that both Sony and Disney were courting Asian directors to helm the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, the female warrior who saved her country.
Alex Graves is a very talented director, and his Game of Thrones work includes the visually stunning “Kissed By Fire” and “The Mountain and the Viper.” He is fully qualified for the job, and we’re sure he’s going to do a great job with his first major feature film.
However, Sony’s decision to hire a non-Asian director is — while sadly predictable — going to come as a disappointment to those hoping for a Chinese director.
Hollywood’s track record of cultural appropriation is frankly terrible, and while certain measures have been taken to make sure it’s not always just a bunch of white dudes making money off other cultures’ stories, sadly the Hollywood industry continues to miss the mark.
Mulan deserves the director who has the best vision and abilities to tell the story well, and clearly, Sony feels that Graves is the man for the job. And of course, a Chinese director would not automatically have a stronger connection to the material than anyone else simply by nationality.
However, there are very few Hollywood-funded projects that put the spotlight on Asian culture, and there’s no denying that this would have been the perfect opportunity to hire Asian (read: ideally Chinese) talent both in front of and behind the camera.
And it’s hard to believe that there aren’t Asian directors out there with equal talent, or an equally convincing vision, that Sony might have hired for Mulan. (Here’s a list of 100, for reference.)
The news is particularly disheartening considering the film is a Chinese co-production, and as such should be able to consider not just Hollywood directors, but directors currently working in China, with not just an ethnic, but an active cultural tie to the source material.
Disney has yet to announce the director for their version of Mulan, although rumor has it they reached out to Ang Lee, who turned it down. Both studios have promised that their movies will have an all-Asian cast, with Disney launching a global casting call to find a Chinese actress to play Mulan.
Sony’s Mulan is slated for November 2, 2018.