While on a long-haul flight from Shanghai to New York, a despondent, American lawyer becomes seduced by the enchanting stories of a wise, Chinese woman seated beside him; unleashing feelings he had tried to bury deep inside.
Fate intervenes, when Charles, a young and over-worked American corporate lawyer, finds himself seated beside an elderly Chinese woman with a mysterious past, Auntie Ling on a contemporary flight from Shanghai to New York.
After noticing the beautiful bouquet of Poppies that Charles has brought onboard the flight, Auntie Ling reminisces about the early years of her marriage to Shu Zhen, an opium trader in 1940s Shanghai, and tries to coax Charles out of his solitude.
Slowly lured into her stories, Charles begins to see the layers beneath Auntie Ling's polished facade. Poppies brought Charles and Auntie Ling together, underscoring the fine line between joy and sorrow...life and death.
Influenced by real events, Poppies explores the cross-cultural and cross-generational relationships that develop between strangers in mid-air.
At the root of Poppies are the universal ideas of love, fate and destiny, told through a contemporary lens exploring cultural values, age and gender.
Was Charles destined to sit beside Auntie Ling, the one woman who can save him in his time of need? Or was he lucky – had he not brought the poppies on board the flight, what would happen to him?
Like the character of Charles, I was absorbed in a stressful job that left me dispassionate and questioning my values (individual pursuits vs family), and my ideas on types of love. Also like Charles, I was lucky to have met a figure like Auntie Ling in Singapore, a colleague of mine at my first job in an investment bank.
Poppies is a deeply personal story, based upon my experience of living and working in Asia for 7 years and the impression that Asian (and Chinese) culture has left on my perception and values. The film is not only a personal expression of experience, but also an important story for diversity – strengthening the relationship between Asia and America, and supporting the Asian-American community in the entertainment industry.
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