The Dengs - Qian Hui Deng and Xue Mei Li - were devastated when they received a notice from the Canadian government that their son had died and been buried on Canadian soil. Little else was explained. It wasn’t until a year later that they received his belongings and death certificate. Unable to come to terms with the strange circumstances of his death, the parents migrate from Beijing to Vancouver to investigate the truth behind their son’s alleged suicide.

Over the course of ten years, the film follows the parents as they retrace Shi-Ming Deng’s footsteps and experience the isolation that comes with immigrating to a new culture and country, explore the helplessness in the face of government bureaucracy and ultimately, have their own encounter with mental illness. The Dengs and their personal journey expose the vulnerability to mental illness that the act of immigration creates - a vulnerability that is compounded by the absence of cultural coping mechanisms. Their negotiations with their relationship, different cultures, grief, family and continuing with their lives penetrate to the heart of the immigrant experience.

Production team