Not in This Life by Daniel Broderick | Script Revolution

Not in This Life

A uniquely animated romance feature film, tracking two souls as Russian Jews in 1840, as Chinese immigrants in 1916, and as Mexican Americans in contemporary Los Angeles.



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DOBRA, an 18 year old Jewish girl, lives with her fur trading father and mother in Fort Ross, California, a Russian colony in 1840. She hopes to marry, but the prospects are slim to none until SAUL arrives, the 24 year old son of a competing trader in the same colony. They instantly fall for each other, but must receive the blessings of their respective parents. That entails a Shabbat dinner, a chaperoned stroll along the ocean bluff, and a mutually acceptable marriage contract. Once the engagement party is over, the two families prepare for the wedding. For DOBRA, that means a ritual bath (the mikvah) and combing of the hair. In the midst of her ritual, a Russian sailing vessel arrives to conscript soldiers for the tsar's war in Russia. Because the colony remains part of Russia, SAUL is not exempt and his name was selected by Jewish leaders in Vladivostok, the nearest Jewish precinct. On the eve of the planned wedding, he must leave a devastated DOBRA. Both vow that they will never love another.


SAUL's soul is reincarnated in the body of YANG WEI, a 26 year old Chinese non-citizen living in San Francisco, California in 1916 Although his part is played by a Chinese actor, he shares the same mannerisms, habits, and fears as SAUL. He seeks a wife, but his parents cannot find anyone acceptable in San Francisco, so his mother returns to their home town in China to find a bride. She consults a marriage broker, who has someone in mind, except her eight characters are deemed incompatible by the town's fortune teller. Fortunately, the broker spies CHEN LI, 16, who also desires to marry. CHEN LI, played by a Chinese actress, is the reincarnated soul of DOBRA, with the same allergies, bad eye sight, and mannerisms. After an elaborate engagement ceremony, the marriage is arranged, to happen in San Fransisco. But the US Congress has passed an Asian exclusion law, preventing CHEN LI's entrance into the US. YANG WEI's parents arrange for the wedding to occur on Angel Island, technically exempt from the exclusion law. Once CHEN LI completes her ritual bath and combing ceremony on the ship, all she has to do is pass the immigration exam, which includes a demonstration that she can read. No problem, until an unscrupulous immigration officer takes her glasses away, preventing her from being able to read. The wedding is off and she has to return to China. They see each other, but never physically meet.
CHEN LI's parents have agreed to the wedding on condition she marry and live in the U.S. But YANG WEI cannot travel to China and return because he is not a citizen. They agree to wait until that can happen. But the Spanish Flu pandemic and two World Wars intervene, preventing them from marrying. When CHEN LI's last parent dies, she goes to live with her uncle in Mexico and YANG WEI moves to Mexico when he retires. But they die before meeting.


DOBRA/CHEN LI's soul is now reincarnated in the body of SONYA RIVERA, 20, Mexican American in contemporary Los Angeles. Different actress, same traits. SAUL/YANG WEI's soul appears in ALEX ELUNO, a 20 year old Mexican American. Love at first sight. Alex invites Sonya to a unique L.A. paseo. Then the real courting begins at various Los Angeles locales. Instead of the traditional serenade, Alex arranges a music and dancing fest in a restaurant. Sonya's dad, seemingly upset at not being asked first, turns out to be in on the ruse. So, the wedding is on. They get to the church, with all the Mexican traditions in place, when Sonya accidentally eats a peanut encrusted cookie and goes into anaphylactic shock. Alex breaks into her car for her EPI pen, but is confronted by a policeman who wants to arrest him. Fate finally intervenes and the two are wed.

Submitted: November 15, 2020
Last Updated: August 18, 2022

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Daniel Broderick's picture

The Writer: Daniel Broderick

California native. Born in Los Angeles after my parents moved there from Chicago, where my father wrote for television after WWII and college. Have lived in San Fernando Valley, Orange County, Palo Alto, Florence (Italy), Washington, D.C., New Haven (Connecticut), West Los Angeles, Germany, and Sacramento. Currently live in Pasadena, California. Stanford undergrad. Played basketball until hurt my sophomore year, Yale Law School. Non-lawyer jobs include assembling board games, gas station attendant, assembling yachts, picking up trash at the beach, washing dorm windows, maintenance at a golf course, painting the take off boards for the long jump and triple jump (jock job, where I was... Go to bio

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