Family is an integral part of every culture. Every culture has more in common with one another than there differences. Writer/director Emily Ting tells her personal story in her sophomore feature, Go Back to China. As a Chinese American, I found Ting’s tale and her portrayal of a Chinese family felt familiar and new at the same time.
Sasha Li (Anna Akana) is a recent fashion-school grad, who is having trouble finding work, but lives comfortably off the trust fund set up by her estranged father, Teddy (Richard Ng), in China. Sasha continually ignores her father’s phone call, until he cuts her off financially while she tries to pay for her $2,000 birthday party at a local night club.
Enraged, Sasha calls her father, who tells her that she will be permanently cut off unless she returns to China to help him run his toy manufacturing company along with her step-sister Carol (Lynn Chen). With no other financial options, Sasha reluctantly gives in to her father’s wishes returns to China.
“…her father tells her she will be permanently cut off unless she returns to China to help him run his toy manufacturing company…”
Upon arrival at her father’s estate, Sasha meets her pre-teen stepbrother and sister Christian (Tiger Ting) and Dior (Aviva Wang) and her father’s new “girlfriend” and her brother. That night, Teddy insists all his children gather for dinner for Sasha’s arrival. It all ends badly as old family issues bubble to the surface.
Like any good family drama, Go Back To China hits on several themes of family, parents, and children, and legacy, while infusing it in the setting modern-day China. Writer/director Ting creates a fairly complicated family dynamic and at times you can’t believe, yet you can believe this really happened in her personal life.