“Bringing King to China” is the bittersweet story of Caitrin, a young teacher in Beijing, whose failed protests against the Iraq war inspire her to produce a play in China about Martin Luther King, Jr.
Early in the film she mistakenly learns that her father (the filmmaker) has been killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq.
Vowing to show the world a “positive face of America,” she sets out to raise $200,000, hires the most prestigious theater troupe in China and stages a play in Chinese with African American gospel singers. But her efforts to translate Dr. King's vision of global peace to a Chinese audience turn rocky in the face of cultural obstacles and soured relationships.
In the end, Caitrin produces a popular play but is forced to re-define her success, as she learns that language proficiency alone does not guarantee that two cultures will understand each other. She finally repairs a strained friendship with her beloved Beijing assistant, while confronting her father on camera with the charge he is suffering from post-traumatic stress from his coverage of the war in Iraq.
“Bringing King to China” is a daughter-father story that plays out against the bridge she tries to build between the U.S. and China. As it turns out, Caitrin’s bridge is full of unexpected “potholes.” In the journey to find independence, she comes to realize that genuine cross-cultural dialogue entails a gritty struggle to find common ground.