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Genre: Drama

Running Time: 17:19

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Completion Date: 2022

Countries of Production: China/USA


After learning that his son has died in Los Angeles during the pandemic, Chang Dong decides to fly over from China to collect his remnants. Not knowing how to speak English, he hires a Chinese college girl Janice as his translator. Despite a rocky start, the two strangers gradually develop a mutual understanding for each other as Janice bears witness to Chang Dong’s silent grief.


As an international filmmaker from China, I am constantly pursuing stories that can best represent who I am and how I feel as an artist and as a part of a bigger community that is waiting to be seen and heard. And The Story of This Life is a film based on many true stories that should be seen and heard.


I first came across a story of this kind when I was talking to a family friend. He and his colleague were notified by the Chinese Consulate in New York that their sons died from COVID-19 during the lockdown. They weren’t able to collect the remnants because of the travel ban. So instead, they waited at the airport, only to receive two urns.


The second story came from a screenshot circulating on WeChat. It was a father who lost his son due to COVID-19 in London. He wanted to fly over and was looking for someone who speaks Chinese and could pick him up from the Heathrow airport.


These stories hit too close to home. I know I have to tell them, one way or another. 


In the past two years, the pandemic revealed to us all the hidden wounds, disparities, dichotomies, and alienations beneath the surface of globalization. And The Story of This Life is born out of a desire to reflect on this pandemic. It focuses not only on the specific Chinese diasporic experience in America, but also on the universal grief of losing family members during the pandemic. 


Grief of all kinds has always been a constant thread in my works, and in this story, it finally comes to the very surface. This is a story about the dead, but also about the living. I want to explore how the distance between the two countries has torn families apart; I want to explore how communication and miscommunication can appear as the language and culture barrier erect in front of us all; and ultimately, I want to explore how mutual understandings between souls can bring remedy and salvation to all of these.

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