The year is 1985. The fluorescent flicker in the hallway of a Chinese hospital. A man stands composed, clutching his pregnant wife's hand as she screams from the pains of labor. With a final push, the baby comes into the doctor's arm. As the baby cries, the husband and wife share a look. A nurse wraps the baby in a blanket and hands her over to her mother. As the mother takes her baby into her arms, she begins to cry ly. Through a of clips from home videos, LUCY BENNETT entire life is shown. Everything from the day she was brought home by her parents, her piano recital, being picked up for a school dance, and her high school graduation was caught on video. In every video shows Lucy as the only Asian person in the shot and in every video she is smiling and laughing. The year is now 2010. It appears to be winter in suburban Illinois. Lucy, now in her mid-twenties, walks into a coffee shop and takes a seat across from a woman in mid-fifties. The woman is DEBRA BENNETT, Lucy's mother. Lucy tells her mother that she wants to find out more about her biological parents. Debra is worried for her daughter but reluctantly ends up giving Lucy the name and location of the orphanage from which she was adopted. The two share a hug and part ways. Several weeks later, after Lucy made arrangements to travel to China, she s to pack. Her boyfriend, ROY WEAVER, a skinny young boy with glasses, came by to help her pack. Lucy talks out her nerves and fears to Roy as she les clothes and books into her su Roy worries for Lucy as well but is supportive of her quest. He pulls out a neatly wrapped present and hands to Lucy. Lucy carefully unwraps the present. It's an old Canon AE-1 SLR camera. Lucy fully thanks Roy and puts the camera in her backpack. The next day, Lucy boards the plane to China. She takes a break from her Traveler's e book to gaze out of her window at the clouds below the plane. Landing in Beijing, Lucy hails a taxi and tells the driver to take her to the Jade Garden Hotel. On the way, the taxi gets stuck traffic and the driver honks his horn aggress y at the taxi in front of him. The in front of him steps out of his Lucy's steps
out as well and the two drivers begin to argue. Lucy can on watch tly. After arguing for a bit, Lucy's taxi driver offers the other man a cigarette and they smoke together until the traffic clears up. Arriving at the hotel, Lucy stops to take a cture of the hotel with the camera that Roy gave her. She then walks in and attempts to check in using the I ted amount of Chinese that she taught herself. The concierge at the desk, not much older than Lucy, replies with perfect English. getting her room key, Lucy begins to turn away, but she turns back to the concierge to ask her about the orphanage. The concierge introduces herself as CHUN. She tells Lucy that she doesn't know of the orphanage, but offers to escort Lucy around when she's off work. Back in her room, Lucy struggles to fall as , partially due to jet lag and partially due to the poss lity of finally meeting her biological parents. She tosses and turns under the stiff hotel sheets. Finally, she turns on the bedside light and tries to call Roy but the call goes to voicemail, so she turns the light off and tries to fall as again. The next day, Lucy set off to find the orphanage with Chun. They spend the entire day asking citizens about the orphanage, but no one seems to know anything about it. Finally, after all seemed lost, an OLD MAN in the park he knows of the orphanage they're looking for. Leading them through a maze of alleyways, the old man takes the girls to an abandoned building. Lucy walks around the building, observing the faded paintings on the wall and the rusty playground equipment entangled with vines. izing that her new friend is distraught, Chun goes to comfort Lucy. As they leave the premises, Chun invites Lucy over to her place for a real Chinese dinner with her family. The girls arrive outside Chun's apartment building. The place is a solid concrete building with small square windows. Outside each window, laundry hangs out on a line to dry. A group of teenage boys play basketball on a fenced in court just in front of the building. Chun and Lucy climb six flights of stairs to get to Chun's apartment. As Chun opens the door, the smell of sh soup wafts into Lucy's nose. They walk into the apartment. The apartment is incredibly small, consisting of a living/dining room, two bedrooms no bigger than 140 square
feet, a small kitchen, and a tiny bathroom. A woman's voice calls out from the kitchen, welcoming Chun back home. FEl, Chun's mother, walks out from the kitchen holding two bowls of rice. Suddenly, Fei sees Lucy and drops the bowls of ce on the ground, porcelain shattering and flying everywhere. After dinner, Chun and Lucy sit at the dinner table drinking tea. Fei walks out of her bedroom, clutching a weathe old shoebox. She sets the box on the table, opens it, and takes out a Polaroid picture. The picture shows young girl from the beginning scene, identical to Lucy, and the man from the beginning scene. Fei explains that was best friends with Lucy's and knew that Lucy was child from the first saw her. Fei continues to explain that Lucy's parents were killed in the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. Lucy asks Fei many questions about her parents and Fei answers everyth to the best of her lity. They continue to talk late the night. As is about to leave to return to the hotel, Fei offers to take her to her parents' grave the next day. Lucy agrees, thanks Fei, and sets off. Early in the morning, Lucy waits outs of the Jade Garden Hotel. A white pickup truck drives up and Lucy climbs into the passenger seat. Fei sits behind the dr r's wheel and Chun is between Lucy and her mother. Fei drives the truck out of Beijing and onto the dusty country roads. After about an hour and a half, they arrive outside a large hill. The women trudge up the hill for another half an hour until to a clearing with two small gravestones aligned next to each other. Resting against gravestones are s and photos of Lucy's parents. Fei hands Lucy two s of incense and lights them with a garette lighter. Lucy places the incense in a holder by graves, gets down on her knees, and does a full bow. then rose to r , wiped away her tears, and hugged Chun and Fei. Then the three of them turned and w~lked back to the truck. As the truck rolls back into Beijing, Lucy looks out the window and watches fireworks fly in the r.
EXT. APARTMENT - EARLY EVENING
The sun begins to set behind the trees as LUCY and CHUN come walking from the bus station, tired from running around the city and Lucy still sad about losing the trail on her parents. People pass by on their rattling bicycles. Behind them, a group of boys play basketball on the local basketball court. The girls approach a ten-story concrete apartment building. CHUN Well, this is it. this is home.
It's not much but
Lucy looks up at the tall, grey building. The building is lined with small square windows. Outside each window, laundry is hung out on a line. LUCY
Oh, it looks charming.
CHUN (laughs) Please, you don't have to be nice. This place isn't anything to look at. Chun tugs at Lucy's arm and starts to walk to the stairs. Come on.
CHUN I live on the sixth floor.
The girls begin to climb the stone stairs. As they pass each floor, Lucy can hear into each room. She hears people yelling angry Chinese at each other, Chinese variety shows on television, and crying children. CHUN Yup. I've lived here my whole life. My father left us when I was just a baby and this was the only place my mother could afford. I'm working at the hotel and saving up so we can finally leave this dump but for the time being, this is it. The girls stop at the sixth floor. The front door is a iron barred gate. Behind that is an old wooden door. OK.
Here we are.
Chun unlocks the door.
INT. APARTMENT - EARLY EVENING
The girls step into the apartment. Lucy looks around. The apartment is a small place with two tiny bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a small dining/living area. The hissing of steam and the clatter of dishes can be heard coming from the kitchen.
Chun's mother, FEI comes out from the kitchen carrying two bowls of rice. FEI (in Chinese) OK. Wash up. I just finished cooking di ... Fei looks up at Lucy and freezes. She drops the bowls on the cold concrete floor. The porcelain bowls shatter and rice spills on the ground. CHUN (in Chinese) Oh Ma, I forgot to tell you. This is my friend, Lucy. She's staying at the hotel. I invited her over for dinner. LUCY (meekly) It's nice to meet you. I scared you.
I'm sorry if
Lucy begins to pick up the shards of porcelain off the ground. CHUN Ai yah! What are you doing?! You're a guest here. Leave it there. I'll clean it up. Fei continues to stand in the doorway to the kitchen, frozen. The scene cuts to after dinner. Lucy and Chun are still at the table drinking tea. CHUN You'll have to forgive my mom. I don't know what's gotten into her. She's never been like this before.
Lucy sits quietly, sipping her tea. CHUN (sighs) So what are you going to do now? LUCY What else can I do? That orphanage was the only lead I had on my parents. Suddenly, Fei comes out from a bedroom carrying a worn out old shoebox. She places the box on the dinner table and opens it. After rooting around in it for a while, she pulls out a Polaroid picture and hands it to Lucy. The picture shows a young Chinese lady, identical to Lucy, and a handsome young Chinese man. FEI (In Chinese) I knew it from the first time I saw you. These are your parents. You're Ai Ning and Ju Mao's daughter. CHUN She says ... she says these are your parents. LUCY (Still looking at the photo) How does she know? Chun translates word for word for the rest of the conversation. FEI (In Chinese) You think I wouldn't recognize the daughter of my best friends? You have your mother's eyes and your father's smile. CHUN She says your parents were her best friends. You have your mother's eyes and your father's smile. LUCY Wait, "were"? Did something happen to them? FEI They were killed â€˘.. in the Tiananmen
Massacre in 1989. We were students at the time. Your mother was looking sick so I offered to go buy some food while your father looked after her. As I was paying for the food, I heard gunshots coming from the square. I tried to rush back but the road was blocked. When I could finally get in ... Fei looks down.
She hesitates for a second.
They had been shot.
Lucy looks at Fei and Chun and then back at the photo. sit in silence for a minute.
What were they like?
Fei sorts around through the shoebox again and pulls out more photos. FEI Your mother was very beautiful and smart. She was a writer for our school newspaper. She also wrote beautiful poems. Your father was also very smart but he caused a lot of trouble in school. The school never did anything about it because he was a star track and field athlete. I was in the same high school class as your mother. Then one day, your father came running into our classroom and hid under your mother's desk. He was hiding from some kids who he had cheated the day before. Anyways, your mother didn't say anything to the boys looking for your father and the two of them fell in love. Lucy flips through photos of her parents. The photos show her parents as happy, carefree young students. FEI In her sophomore year of college, your mother became pregnant with you. Your parents loved you very much but they couldn't afford to take care of a baby. But even years after you were adopted, your mom
still thought of you everyday. Lucy wipes away her tears. LUCY (sniffling) Thank you Fei. This really means a lot to me. (sigh) It's getting late. I should get going. Lucy gets up and puts on her coat. the polaroid to Lucy.
Fei stands up and hands
You should have this.
Lucy takes the photo and puts it in her purse. FeL
FEI If you'd like I could take you to see your parents' grave tomorrow. So you can pay your respects. LUCY That would be great. Thank you. And thank you for the meal. It was delicious. I'll see you at the hotel, Chun? CHUN Oh, I have the day off tomorrow. But I'll pick you up with my mom tomorrow morning at 8 in front of the hotel. LUCY Alright, I'll be there. Well .â€˘. bye. FEI
Lucy waves and walks out of the apartment. door behind her.
Chun closes the
When I started this project, I went through several different iterations on the story. Originally, the story was about a Chinese girl, adopted by American parents, who travels back to China upon hearing that her biological father passed away. Due to the single-child law in China, some families will put their daughters up for adoption since boys are preferred because they can carry the family name. I thought I would have Lucy be conflicted in going to her father's funeral because on one hand, he put her up for adoption just because of her gender, but on the other hand, she still feels tied to him through blood. In this version of the story, I imagined Lucy's biological mother to be a compassionate woman who still loved the daughter she was forced to give up. I also thought of having a brother who displays the typical Chinese single child stereotypes: selfish, spoiled, and arrogant. However, I dropped this idea because I couldn't figure out how to get Lucy to eventually forgive her father. There is no real logical reason why she would ever forgive the father that pushed her away. I eventually ended up going with the idea of Lucy looking for her parents herselfin one of the world's most populous cities. I watched The Darjeeling Limited and Lost in Translation for some inspiration. In my mind, I wanted to do a movie that would showcase the city of Beijing while still keeping the audience's attention on the characters. I wanted to introduce more cultural differences to show the barrier between Lucy and her heritage, but had a hard time trying to do so. I also had a hard time trying to dissolve the language barrier between Lucy and the rest of China. I eventually decided on having Lucy befriend the hotel concierge, who would be educated in English since she has to deal with tourists on a regular basis. Still, I
couldn't really figure out how to effective write dialogue between Chun's mother who only speaks Chinese, Chun who is translating the conversation, and Lucy who only speaks English.
Published on Feb 10, 2011