Children of Invention

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Children of Invention
COI poster final sm.jpg
Directed byTze Chun
Produced byMynette Louie
Trevor Sagan
Written byTze Chun
StarringCindy Cheung
Michael Chen
Crystal Chiu
Music byT. Griffin
CinematographyChris Teague
Edited byAnna Boden
Distributed byN/A
Release date
  • January 18, 2009 (2009-01-18) (Sundance)
  • March 12, 2010 (2010-03-12) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States

Children of Invention is an American independent feature film written and directed by Tze Chun. It premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, screened at more than 50 film festivals, and won 17 festival awards including 8 Grand Jury or Best Narrative Feature prizes. The film was released theatrically in eight U.S. cities beginning February 2010, on Video-on-Demand in June 2010, and on DVD in August 2010.


The first half of the movie centers around Elaine Cheng (played by Cindy Cheung), a single mother and immigrant living in the Boston suburbs, and the life she provides for her two children (played by Michael Chen and Crystal Chiu). As a way to cope and entertain themselves, the kids invent things. The mother is drawn to pyramid schemes as a way to get ahead and repeatedly loses money. Eventually her two young children are left to fend for themselves when their mother is arrested by the police. The film is loosely based on Tze Chun's own life,[1] as well as his Sundance 2007 short film, Windowbreaker.[2]


Though set in Boston, the film shot 20 days in and around New York City and 4 days in Boston.[3] The film premiered at Sundance just 10 months after the first draft of the script was completed.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was very well received by critics, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, New York Post, Variety, LA Weekly, USA Today, Chicago Reader, Film Threat, and The Boston Globe. It was named one of the Top 13 Films of 2009 by Hammer to Nail, and one of the best undistributed films of 2009 by several critics including IFC's Alison Willmore. In 2010, the year of its commercial release, it made several more "best films of the year" lists including the list by Turner Classic Movies' blog.


The film also won the following 17 festival awards:


Tze Chun and the film's producer Mynette Louie were named in Ted Hope's list of "21 Great Free Thinkers of Indie Film" for their DIY festival/DVD distribution strategy.[5] The film debuted theatrically in Boston on February 26, 2010, and in New York and Los Angeles on March 12, 2010, followed by additional theatrical engagements in other cities. It was released on Video-on-Demand beginning in June 2010, and on DVD on August 10, 2010.


  1. ^ Brian Brooks (2009-01-08). "Tze Chun, "Children of Invention": Pyramid Schemes, Herbalife and Collaboration". IndieWIRE. Retrieved 2010-04-02.
  2. ^ Jonathan L. Knapp. "Children of Invention". San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2010-02-18. Retrieved 2010-04-02.
  3. ^ Ty Bur (2009-01-22). "Difficult times, past and present". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-04-02.
  4. ^ Michael Tully (2009-04-08). "A Conversation With Tze Chun". Hammer to Nail. Retrieved 2010-04-02.
  5. ^ Ted Hope (2009-12-28). "21 Great Free Thinkers of Indie Film". The Wrap. Retrieved 2010-04-02.

External links[edit]