Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!


About the Film
Year Released: 
Running Time: 

Set in the idyllic hills of northern California, Jennifer Phang’s marvelously original first feature, Half-Life is a supernormal tale about self-absorbed and disillusioned suburbanites who live in a futuristic time of natural disasters, suffocating air quality, and accelerating global cataclysms. Single mom Suara Wu and her two kids, Pam and Timothy, struggle to rebuild their family in the presence of a sinister, but charming, interloper. Pam seeks refuge in her object of desire, a young hipster named Scott who, in turn, attempts to jar hid fundamentalist parents out of their denial of his gay identity. Timothy, meanwhile, stumbles upon a way to develop and hone paranormal powers that he summons to alter everyone’s reality. Modern and philosophical, Half-Life masterfully blends menacing rage with tenderness and vulnerability of youth to create a tale that injects an empowering and preserving hopefulness into the family’s fatalistic fears of a disintegrating world. A visually ambitious accomplishment filled with gorgeous cinematography, handcrafted animation, and expertly concocted faux news reports, this auspicious directorial debut is without precedent and firmly establishes Jennifer Phang as an exciting talent to watch. 

-Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival

Poster Image: 
Film Director: 
Production Info
Reported or Estimated Budget: 
Diablo Valley, Bay Area, Northern California
Other Interesting Production Info: 
The project took 35 days to film, one year to cut, and one year to add the dramatic animation that fills the film with despair and hope. Developed at the Film Independent (FIND) Directors Lab under the instruction of film and television director Rodrigo García. (
Filmmaking Team
Writer's Name: 
Jennifer Phang
Alan T. Chan, Reuben Lim, Robert Zimmer Jr.
Aasulv Austad
Primary Cast: 
Sanoe Lake (Pamela Wu), Julia Nickson (Saura Wu (as Julia Nickson-Soul)), Leonardo Nam (Scott Parker), Ben Redgrave (Wendell), Lee Marks (Jonah Robertson), James Eckhouse (Richard Parker), Susan Ruttan (Lorraine Parker), Alexander Agate (Timothy Wu)
Exhibition/Distribution Info
Wolfe Releasing, Warner Brothers Digital Distribution, the Sundance Channel, and Comcast VOD
Where to find it/How to get it: 
DVD widely available
  • Sundance Film Festival (2008, World Premiere)
  • Tokyo International Film Festival (Grand Prix Nominee, Gen Art Grand Jury Prize)
  • AAIFF Emerging Director Award for Best Feature,
  • San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (Best Narrative)
  • Calgary's Fairy Tales Queer Diversity Festival (the Visionary Award for Excellence in Visual Innovation)