“There are no effortless masterpieces.”
Ma Ke Liang, the former artistic director of the Shanghai Chinese Opera Theatre, has a son, Maleonn, who is one of China’s most influential contemporary conceptual artists. In this film about their complex relationship, now overshadowed by Alzheimer’s disease, the two renowned culture makers grapple with fading memories, imminent loss, and a strange, ambitious artistic vision.
Throughout his life, Maleonn has viewed his career-consumed father with a mix of admiration and resentment.
When, at 82, Ma Ke is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Maleonn struggles to communicate his feelings.
Facing his father’s painful decline, Maleonn becomes more aware of life’s complexities. Gripped by a sense of time running out, Maleonn seeks out the small patch of common ground between their starkly divergent artistic mediums and practices, pouring his emotions into creating a fantastical stage performance.
”An evocative, visually stunning time-travel story.”
At the play’s heart are autobiographical scenes inspired by Maleonn’s memories with his father.
An evocative, visually stunning time-travel story told using mechanical puppets, the play, titled Papa’s Time Machine, hauntingly echoes the father and son’s own lives. Maleonn hopes the work will bring the them together artistically and personally but as time goes on, and his father’s condition deteriorates, Maleonn is torn between the original goal to honour his father and the pressure of finding commercial success.
When Maleonn encourages his ailing father to collaborate with him on the project, another sort of time machine takes shape.
As Ma Ke’s memory decays, the production moves forward, spinning its tale of a scientist who helps his father travel through time to retrieve lost memories of his life’s accomplishments.
Charting the making of this intimate, moving, wildly imaginative play, OurTime Machine examines familial love, artistic legacy, ephemerality, and the relentless momentum of the passing days.
There are no effortless masterpieces or simple solutions. And there’s no travelling back in time to retrieve what has been lost.
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Orly David, whose The Film Collective distributes Our Time Machine and 306 Hollywood, will be a guest at the Doc Edge Forum.
Previous festival appearances for Our Time Machine include
Tribeca Film Festival, USA