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 childhood, as well as his Sundance 2007 short film, Windowbreaker.