Inspired by the stand-up act of Chinese American comedian Edwin Li, “The Purple Onion” is a dark comedy that follows comedian/dishwasher Johnny Lee (Edwin Li), who struggles with loneliness and self-doubt as he tries to make it as a stand-up comic in San Francisco. His life is further complicated by the arrival of a mysterious older woman, Jeanie (Noreen Lee), a family friend or maybe a distant relative who’s down on her luck and looking for change. While constantly at odds with one another, Johnny and Jeanie search for purpose in their lives as a mutual sexual fascination develops.
Shot entirely in San Francisco, the filmmakers show the foggy city by the Bay unlike ever before depicted in cinema, through a melancholic surreal filter, scored to a bold and eclectic Balkan Brass sound. “The Purple Onion” debuted to rave reviews at the Cinequest Film Festival in 2014 and went on to play a dozen festivals globally, winning the Best Feature: Drama-Comedy at the Indie Gathering International Film Festival.
Directed by Matt Szymanowski. Written by Matt Szymanowski and Edwin Li. Staring Edwin Li and Noreen Lee. Wolves Films (74 min). Distributed by Cinemation Studios. Available on major VOD platforms April 19th.