Our Time Machine
Regissør: S. Leo Chiang Yang Sun

TIME MACHINE / Concept artist Maleonn uses puppets to make contact with his demented father.


He is in the swimming pool when his father constantly asks him – over and over again – whether he can float.

- Yes, I learned it from you. As the father asks for one time, the Chinese conceptual artist Maleonn promises to create a performance that can regain contact with the father. He embarks on his first puppet show. It is about a son who constructs a time machine to bring his demented pilot dad back to childhood and the time for shared memories.

Relevant about dementia

Percentage of people affected demens or Alzheimer's disease, is constantly growing, due to both increasing life expectancy and a changing lifestyle. The documentary addresses a particularly important theme in a new and relevant way.

The movie style is sober, but it is not the main character Maleonn's project. He devotes himself to a poetic shadow play with human-sized puppets and ingeniously constructed machines.

The puppet game idea begins modestly, but looks completely out of proportion to time and cost. What started as a promise to the father becomes an immersive and grandiose performance with advanced mechanical dolls and machines. The details and the ingenious ingenuity are as drawn from the Renaissance and Leonardo da Vinci's drawing board.

During the course of the documentary, it is at first incomprehensible that such a lavish scale is necessary to reach through to Maleonn's old father. His father's background as director of as many as 80 Beijing opera productions in Shanghai explains his son's need for the spectacular form of expression. The father has not forgotten his merits for good – despite the fact that he has neither a sense of the day of the week nor the year. Maleonn for his part has had a bad period in his own artistic work; the performance gives him much-needed new direction and power.

In the shadow of a successful father

The shadow of a successful father is clearly and roughly drawn in the film. In the puppet show, Maleonn pours good childhood episodes, but he also admits that his father was unavailable and engrossed in theater work.

The documentary addresses a particularly important theme in a new and relevant way.

The life choice of becoming an artist was to be close to the father, through the opportunity to work with him. The circle is closed or is it? The danger has been lost to Maleonn before. This twist in history gives it suspense. The main character knows well for want. Maybe that's what makes him so insistent in his ambitious project in his dad's arena. The performance must redeem and soothe. Our protagonist is a modern man in existential midlife crisis. It is unusual to meet a Chinese man and get so close. Here he is mirrored by his own father and his crisis. One man is on his way to leave the stage for good, another uses his farewell to conquer it.

Heredity and environment

Somewhere in the middle of the movie, I find myself cozying up as elements of Chinese opera with colorful costumes and hard-made faces light up. With narrow eyes, the opera sequences become more monochromatic, and the oversized faces are reminiscent of puppets. The sticks, or were the pennants they fan acrobatically with? To me, the threads and pins are similar to the ones you use to control puppets. The two generations' projects merge in like manner. The parallelism makes me think about heritage and the environment, and what their backgrounds are, those who are now emerging as stars in the new and powerful China.

Megalomaniac projects

The film conveys something enviable. It is a testimony to the Chinese elite's ability to carry out megalomaniacal projects, even with money gusts and annoyances as powerful as black holes. The time machine is touching, but not only in losing those who lose the present memory. The movie tells of two times. About his father's illuminating career after first being relegated to hard work in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, popularized and popularized much of the Beijing Opera's tradition, I read several places after a little Google search.

The word popularity leads to how the film team got into the performance so early. The father and son's celebrity have been tempting to capture in the same film. By putting them together, the documentary has managed to convey something about artistry throughout life.

Yang Sun, a documentary and photographer from Beijing, is teaming up with S. Leo Ching, an award-winning San Francisco- and Tapei-based filmmaker. Together, they are responsible for directing and manufacturing. They have wisely retained and let a story of father and son become a more far-reaching story.

The movie is shown on HUMAN International Documentary Film Festival.

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