Harvard Awards Wong Kar Wai Honorary Degree

Harvard awards seven honorary degrees for the 2017-2018 academic year, presented during Commencement Day.

Hong Kong-based film director and one of “cinema’s most influential auteurs” Wong Kar Wai was among the seven recipients, and was awarded a Doctor of Arts by the University.

Writing in the opens in a new windowHarvard Gazette, the University described Wong Kar Wai as “among modern cinema’s most influential auteurs. His films are known for their vivid visual imagery, their nonlinear narratives and complex characters, and their moving evocations of love, longing, and loss. Born in Shanghai, he moved at age 5 to Hong Kong, whose culture figures prominently in many of his movies. His 2000 film “In the Mood for Love,” which he wrote, directed, and produced, is widely regarded as one of the finest motion pictures of the early 21st century. His oeuvre of award-winning films also includes “As Tears Go By” (1988), “Days of Being Wild” (1990), “Chungking Express” (1994), “Fallen Angels” (1995), “Happy Together” (1997), “2046” (2004), and “The Grandmaster” (2013). Past recipient of the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and past president of the juries for the international film festivals in Cannes, Berlin, and Beijing, he has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Stockholm International Film Festival’s Visionary Award, the Grand Lyon Film Festival’s Prix Lumière, and the International Film Festival of India’s Lifetime Achievement Award.”

opens in a new windowHarvard Magazine described Wong’s life and cinematic background as “an internationally celebrated filmmaker, rarely seen without his trademark sunglasses. Born in Shanghai, he emigrated with his parents to Hong Kong, where his father managed a nightclub. Reportedly, he did not speak the local language, Cantonese, until he was 13. He did immerse himself in pop music and city nightlife; both have left deep grooves on his work. Wong is best known for his loose trilogy of melancholy romances set in Hong Kong: Days of Being WildIn the Mood for Love, and 2046. Time and missed moments are a central theme; his narratives tend to be fragmented and nonlinear, perhaps reflecting his famously haphazard work process, which prizes fresh reactions over order, discovery over deliberation. Since the breakout success of Chungking Express in 1994, Wong has been known, on the day of a shoot, to distribute scripts that seem to have been scribbled longhand; he has often summoned actors back on a whim. The director has also leant his lush, moody style to martial-arts epics like Ashes of Time and The Grandmaster—and also to his sole English-language work to date, an American road movie, My Blueberry Nights (in which he cast Natalie Portman ’03 as a professional, if unskilled, poker player).”

We were thrilled to welcome Wong Kar Wai to the Fairbank Center before the award ceremony, where he met with Mark Elliott, Vice Provost for International Affairs, and Dan Murphy, Executive Director of the Fairbank Center. During his visit to the Center, we awarded Mr. Wong with a replica of the Harvard University Tercentenary Stele.