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43-year-old Maleonn is one of China’s most influential conceptual artists today. His father, Ma Ke, was the artistic director of the Shanghai Chinese Opera Theater. After being humiliated and forbidden from working for a decade during the Cultural Revolution, Ma Ke immersed himself in theater. The mysterious excitement of Ma Ke’s creative world inspired the young Maleonn, but his father’s absences stoked early feelings of resentment.


When Ma Ke is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Maleonn pours everything into an ambitious new theater project: “Papa’s Time Machine,” a visually stunning time-travel adventure told with human-sized puppets. At the play’s heart are autobiographical scenes inspired by Maleonn’s memories with his father. He hopes this will bring them together artistically and personally.

  • Year
    2019
  • Runtime
    81 min
  • Language
    Chinese (Mandarin) with English subtitles
  • Country
    China
  • Premiere
    Tribeca Film Festival (New York City,2019 Tribeca - Winner, Best Cinematography in a Documentary Feature
  • Rating
    Not Rated
  • Director
    Yang Sun & S. Leo Chiang
  • Executive Producer
    Jean Tsien, Sally Jo Fifer, Nick Fraser
  • Co-Producer
    Violet Du Feng, Qingzeng Cai, Sharky Wang
  • Cast
    Maleonn, Ma Ke, Zheng Wei Tong, Ma Duo, Tianyi Huang, and Makuji the Puppet
  • Cinematographer
    Yang Sun, Shuang Liang
  • Editor
    Bo Li
  • Sound Design
    Joe Milner
  • Music
    Paul Brill