The key ingredient in bird's nest soup is the hardened saliva of the swiftlet. Once a rarity and now a harvested 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 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.
Starring Howard Gan
Director Emily Gan