The struggle for children of immigrants is that they are caught between their old and new country. In director Robin Wang’s short film, Wei-Lai, a ten-year-old Chinese-American boy is done with his cultural past. Wei-Lai ponders the color turquoise as it’s “derived from the blue, but also surpasses blue” in many ways.
After a night of corporal punishment from his parents, young Wei-Lai (Arthur Zhang) has had it. So he packs his bags and heads to his best friend Luca’s (Benjamin Widner) house. But he’s not there to play. Instead, he is there to make a proposition to Luca’s mother (Laura Chowenhill). Wei-Lai wants Mr. and Mrs. Francis to adopt him as Wei-Lai is clearly an “upgrade” to Luca. Mrs. Francis says yes and immediately calls his parents (Wang Zhan and Eon Song) about Wei-Lai’s scheme.
“…there to make a proposition to Luca’s mother…adopt him as Wei-Lai is clearly an ‘upgrade’…”
Written by Tony G.X. Shi, Wei-Lai highlights the conflict many first-generation immigrants face as each subsequent generation becomes increasingly assimilated into American culture. Being Chinese, Wei-Lai struggles to recognize the sacrifices his parents made to come to the States and give him a better life. Immigrants do all this with the expectation that their children will succeed beyond their parents.
Wei-Lai is anchored brilliantly by the performance of Arthur Zhang. He’s exceptional at comedy, particularly for a kid his age, and is quite skillful in shifting between the humor and the drama. Wang and Shi perfectly capture that very adult war within a child’s soul as they struggle between finding their identity while respecting those who’ve come before them.
For more information, visit Wei-Lai’s IMDB page.
"…anchored brilliantly by the performance of Arthur Zhang."