****/**** Image A Sound A Extras A+
starring Lisa Yang, Chang Chen, Chang Kuo-Chu, Elaine Jin
script and dialogue by Edward Yang, Yan Hong-Ya, Alex Yang, Lai Ming-Tang
directed by Edward Yang
by Walter Chaw My family fled mainland China to Taiwan in 1949, just ahead of the communist takeover. My grandfather on my mother's side, a member of the Chinese military, asked his aide to fill out the paperwork necessary for their emigration. In his haste, the kids were given sequential birth dates (1, 2, 3, 4, 5...) to expedite completion of the forms so they could get on with their flight. My uncle, Fu Kun-Ning, was born on January 7, 1941, though his official identification documents say something different. I think he probably liked the chaos, the mystery represented by that discrepancy--he was nobody's man but his own. He died on March 1, 2007, when I was 33. I hadn't spent much time with him over the course of my life. I was quickly and irrevocably estranged from my family and my heritage, as are many Chinese-Americans born here to immigrant parents. I barely said anything to my own parents for thirty years. There was one visit, though, where I had a formative conversation with said uncle. He asked me what I was interested in and, ashamed to tell him the truth, I told him I wanted to be a biochemical engineer, the major I went into my first semester of college having declared.