Made in China

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Movie Info

For years, film editor-turned-directorJohn Helde had tried in vain to grasp the nature of his father, Tom's, unusual childhood - and to answer a myriad of related questions that went long unanswered. Born on June 13, 1920 on a rural mountaintop in the Chinese province of Sichuan, Thomas Helde came of age as an American boy in 1930s China. Oddly, he grew up not in a socially isolated environment but amid scores of other Americans who comprised an unusual social group with strong cultural ties to both the U.S. and China. In 2002, John sat down with his father for the first time, and began an aggressive attempt to understand this long-buried passage from Tom's life. In fact, father and son even planned to cap off this discussion with a shared trip to Sichuan, but tragically this was not to be. In December 2003, Tom unexpectedly died, leaving John alone - with only partial insights into his father's background and upbringing. In remembrance of his father, John set off for China alone, journeying from Shanghai to Changsha to Sichuan. Though his journey began as an attempt to simply understand his father's beginnings, it quickly expanded into the discovery of an entire lost culture to which Tom belonged, and led John into radical redefinitions of such concepts as home, culture and identity. Made in China documents this extraordinary geographic and psychological journey.

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