Maleonn is in a race against Alzheimer’s disease. He wants to produce a play about his father’s past before the disease erases it. Maleonn, an influential Chinese artist, hopes to collaborate with his ill father, Ma Ke, an accomplished Peking Opera director. Filmmakers S. Leo Chiang and Yang Sun follow Maleonn as he produces his first theatre production, “Papa’s Time Machine,” which depicts his relationship with his father using life-size, mechanical puppets that travel through time to revisit shared memories. The film documents financial setbacks that delay the show’s opening and shows how determined Maleonn is to complete the play before his father’s disease takes his memories forever.
The film takes viewers into Maleonn’s creative process of making each puppet and set piece by hand. Liang’s play not only shows his filial love for his father, but breathes life into his work and shows the connections art creates and the joy it brings. Chiang is a veteran documentarian and his earlier film, A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES, earned an Emmy Award nomination. — Jason Nou