Sunday, October 11, 2009
Children of Invention is a story that too many people can relate to right now. Elaine (Cindy Cheung), a mother of two, Raymond,(Michael Chen)approx age 12 and Tina, (Crystal Chiu)about age 5 or 6 is struggling to make ends meet. She looses their house and luckily is offered shelter in an apartment building that is not yet finished or open for renting. She's told they must be careful that no light show from the apt and not too make too much noise. An impossible feat for any parent of young children.
In fact, the theme of this film was very similar to The Boys Are Back (click for review) in that although Elaine loves her children and is in no way cruel, her parental flaws are always on view. Tina constantly asks when they are going back to their own home and Elaine can't come up with a suitable answer, so she just avoids the question. The children are often hungry, they each get a packet of Ramen noodles as an after school snack, and it's often very late by the time Elaine comes home with dinner, the kids are left to wait long hours in the car while she tries to sign up other desperate people into a pyramid scheme. And finally once arrested, she's afraid to tell the authorities that her children are home alone.
The director, Tze Chun was in attendance and said although the film is an exaggeration, it does resemble his childhood of being dragged to Amway type marketing meetings and often being left to mind his young sister.
Children of Invention premiered at Sundance in 2009 and has since won 10 film festival awards. I was impressed with the schedule Chun set for himself upon graduating from Columbia University - to make a no budget short film every 6 months and write a feature film every 9 months. Perhaps it was this mind set that landed his short Window Breaker into Sundance in 2007, opening the doors for Children of Invention.
With less and less films being bought at Sundance for less and less money, he and producer Mynette Louie have turned down distribution offers and have found more success selling the DVD at festivals and online.
Rating: Pretty Middle Toe