Children of Invention

2009 / 86 min. / USA

Two young children living outside Boston are left to fend for themselves when their mother gets embroiled in a pyramid scheme and disappears.

One of Filmmaker Magazine’s "25 New Faces of Independent Film," writer-director Tze Chun makes "a fine feature debut" (Manohla Dargis, New York Times) with one of the most-awarded and best-reviewed films of the year. CHILDREN OF INVENTION is by turns humorous and heartbreaking, an "urgent, artful...austerely poetic" (Variety) "edge-of-your-seat family drama" (Spout) that’s both “powerfully moving and rigorously intelligent."(Boston Phoenix).

After being evicted, hardworking single mom Elaine Cheng (Cindy Cheung, Lady in the Water) tries to maintain a normal life for her children, Raymond and Tina. Elaine juggles a number of jobs, including working for a questionable pyramid scheme. When Elaine doesn’t return home one night, nobody knows the kids are home alone, and they are left to fend for themselves. As the days pass, Raymond, a budding inventor, realizes he needs to come up with a plan to take care of his little sister.

Referencing both the mortgage meltdown and suburban Ponzi schemes, “the film finds delicate moments of beauty and grace as its child heroes are forced to make their way” (Filmmaker Magazine). Featuring “gifted child actors--off-the-charts cute, refreshingly free of Hollywood precociousness” (LA Weekly), CHILDREN OF INVENTION is "as close to cinematic purity as one is likely to see this year" (Film Society of Lincoln Center), "a rueful homage to American dreams both wonderful and warped" (Village Voice).

CHILDREN OF INVENTION made its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, played over 50 film festivals, and won 17 festival awards incuding 8 Grand Jury or Best Narrative Feature prizes. It was released theatrically in 8 cities beginning February 2010, on Video-on-Demand in June 2010, and on DVD in August 2010.


Director: Tze Chun
Writer: Tze Chun


Cindy Cheung
Michael Chen
Crystal Chiu


Boston Independent Film Festival 2009: Grand Jury Prize, Narrative Competition
Chlotrudis Awards 2011: Nominated, Chlotrudis Award, Best Director
Hawaii International Film Festival 2009: Won Emerging Filmmaker Award, Tze Chun
Memphis Indie Film Festival 2009: Won Indie Memphis Competiton - Special Jury Prize, Emotional Storytelling, Tze Chun
Montréal World Film Festival 2009, Nominated, Golden Zenith, Tze Chun
Nashville Film Festival 2009, Won, Special Award,Cindy Cheung, Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu
Newport International Film Festival 2009, Won, Jury Award, Best Feature Film, Tze Chun
Ojai Film Festival 2009, Won, Best Narrative Feature, Narrative Competition, Tze Chun
San Diego Asian Film Festival 2009, Won, Grand Jury Prize Tze Chun
Won, Jury Award, Best Narrative Feature, Tze Chun
San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival 2009, Won, Special Jury Award Narrative, Tze Chun
Sarasota Film Festival 2009, Won, Special Jury Prize Tze Chun
VC FilmFest - Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2009, Won, Grand Jury Prize Best Narrative Feature, Tze Chun
Won, Jury Prize, New Talent To Watch - Acting, Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu
Woodstock Film Festival 2009, Won, Honorable Mention, Best Editing in a Narrative Feature, Anna Boden