I recently had dinner with my birth parents together for the first time. Sitting between them i realized how little time I had left to really know my now 78-year old father Andrew, having grown up with my caucasian mother and barely a word spoken about him until i tracked him down at 18. 26 years later we’ve still never spoken of his childhood in China, escaping war into Korea or his missionary immigration to the US. Only a few years ago did i discover his seven marriages and splintered relationships with his eight brothers and sisters.
My father is the only one of the family who remembers our home in China. Thirty years ago my grandfather returned to Antung and was accused of being a spy because he received money from the government (social security), so though the world has marched forward, our distant family still lives in the same house there and in much the same way. I’ve never spent more than one night with Andrew, so it is a unique opportunity to actually document these first moments of sharing, of traveling, of healing, of becoming related, and of seeing who we are beyond the pleasantries and vague familial ties. From staying in our ancestral home, learning my father’s technique in stretching noodles by hand from scratch and walking the Great Wall to studying the language and history, we’ll be discovering each other anew and making up for a childhood apart, while Andrew confronts the death of his mother and his youth spent supporting his siblings and the realities of war.
We live in a unique era where the world is more connected and disconnected than ever before, racing forward grasping for the new and the next. With populations exploding and the value of life diminishing in the face of it, what is the importance of one person or one relationship? We cannot move forward powerfully without understanding our past, which begins with our family. We are the architects of our future and the biggest most fulfilling journeys can begin with the simplest of questions that we never seem to ask those who we’ve known all our lives, such as ‘Who are you?”.
I’m not willing to sit by anymore and never truly know my father, his past and culture. We’ve jumped in the deep end and my father, his wife and I are headed to Asia at the end of the month for a full month of exploring his home town, the new China, his home in Korea, and all his memories and expectations, tracking his journey from pre-communist China to America. I’m bringing my director younger brother from a different father along, with his fiancé, to document/film the trip and create something truly special. It is my intention to observe all the factors that have separated us as father and son, as a family and as a culture, whether it is time, distance, trauma, religion, sexuality, war, language or ideology, all the 'walls' that separate us from feeling related and connected to one another, both physical and emotional.
Your contribution will allow this to be filmed, reunite a family who has never met, share a world beyond the glitz of Hollywood and fulfill the life of a man who has dreamed of going home for 70 years. Ten years ago my father and i had a conversation to start creating our relationship from scratc, letting go of the past so we could actually be father and son. That night he told my friends that our relationship was the one thing missing from his life and that now that we’d had that conversation he could die happy. I’m pushing that envelope further to not just have a relationship, but to have a truly great one, so that at the end of this conversation I could die happy too. It is my hope that anyone seeing what we create will be inspired to take action to clear up old resentments, work through their regrets, get related again to those they love and enjoy their lives to the fullest. Anything is possible!
What do we need to make all this happen? Money to cover camera equipment, sound equipment, travel expenses, lodging, food, insurance and post expenses like sound and editing! We need help getting our project before people who want to join in and see us complete the project. We need publicity, air time, blog posts, exposure on your own social media and those of your friends. Sharing, tweeting, posting, with a call to action like CONTRIBUTE or further sharing. Money is fantastic! Cash funding can assist in so many ways with anything expected or unexpected that comes up.
My parents’ travel expenses have already been graciously donated by his brother to thank him for bringing the youngest children food and money home which kept them alive, but there is a mounting list of expenses. We also welcome suggestions!
Contribute to the story! I don't even know what i should ask of my father, and we are creating the story as we go along! What would you ask your father? See the feature page on facebook for more photos and information https://www.facebook.com/GreatWallsProject