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15 Oct 15:30

at Genesis cinema

Cavebirds 家 (UK Premiere) + Q&A

Dir. Emily Gan | Canada | 2019 | 81min

The key ingredient in bird's nest soup is the hardened saliva of the swiftlet. Once a rarity and now a farmed agricultural product, demand for this Chinese delicacy attracts entrepreneurs to Southeast Asia, where the swiftlets make their edible homes. Howard Gan is one of these investors: a recently retired Chinese-Malaysian Canadian immigrant who has spent over half his life in Montreal. Gan decides to return to extended family and oversee his investment. The swiftlet's idiosyncratic life cycle-building homes for their offspring, only to be displaced and forced to resettle—captures the imagination of Howard's artist daughter (filmmaker Emily Gan), who sees the parallels to her father's own life. She's keen to follow him on his adventure, hoping to understand his motivations for making this aviary his children's inheritance.


Addressing themes of home and heritage, Cavebirds is a beautifully crafted father-daughter story that explores the changing values between generations and our desire to know where we come from. Winner of the Emerging Filmmaker Award at Hot Docs, the film is a quiet personal reflection on the complexities of migration and belonging.

Director bio

Emily Gan is a Canadian film producer, director, writer and editor. Cavebirds(2019) is her debut feature documentary for which she received the Emerging Canadian Filmmaker award at Toronto’s 2019 Hot Docs Festival. Emily has since partnered with filmmaker and singer/songwriter Daniel Isaiah Schachter, and the duo produced, wrote and directed their first feature fiction film Pink Lake (2020), which premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2020. Emily’s current film projects—a dramatic feature and a short experimental horror film—are both inspired by her experiences growing up in Montreal, where she was born and raised by her immigrant parents from the Overseas Chinese diaspora (Malaysia and Taiwan).

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