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How to Have an American Baby

Directed by Leslie Tai

Official Selection, 2023 True/False Film Festival
Official Selection, 2023 San Francisco International Film Festival

Dotted across the suburban sprawl of San Gabriel, California are so-called “maternity hotels,” all-inclusive birth tourism packages for expectant Chinese families. Offering plane tickets, third-trimester accommodations, hospital selection (across a spectrum of all-cash price points), and final mailing of a social security card back home, hotel brokers enable birth to a child on American soil. Through a series of observational vignettes, HOW TO HAVE AN AMERICAN BABY traces a network of actors across the supply chain of this shadow economy: motel managers, nannies, companions, and expectant mothers themselves – two whose parallel stories heartbreakingly intersect at the film’s center.

Moving through nondescript, Southern California apartments, hospital rooms, and chain stores, the actors depicted become strange bedfellows in the literal and metaphorical waystations of another country. Director Leslie Tai thrusts her viewer into the immediacy of being in-between nations, life stages, labor, and birth. Unfolding conversations unveil the myriad negotiations each of these actors make as they navigate the byzantine, bureaucratic systems of American healthcare, law, and citizenship, often from the most vulnerable of positions.

HOW TO HAVE AN AMERICAN BABY is a portrait of the Chinese repurposing of the American dream, accessed through the unexpected intersection of birth and commerce. We witness two countries seen through the eyes of the other, fixed upon a vanishing point of illusory opportunities.

– Kim-Anh Schreiber

Filmmaker scheduled to attend.
Screening to be followed by Q&A.

Dates & Times


Edwards Mira Mesa

Fri, Nov 3
7:35 pm