A Japanese couple, Osamu and Nobuyo, are stuck with part-time jobs and hence inadequate incomes, and so avail themselves of the fruits of shoplifting to make ends meet.
The unusual routine is about to change from care-free and matter-of-fact to something more dramatic, when, after one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, they decide to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces.
As the couple open their doors to a beleaguered young girl, the reasons for the family’s habit and their motivations come under the microscope.
The protagonist of “Pain and Glory” was at the decline of his career. The man involuntarily looks back into the past, and a stream of vivid memories falls upon him. He recalls such moments from his youth as tender feelings for his mother, love and separation, the search for happiness and success. All this leads the master of cinema to important thoughts about life and art, because this is the most important thing for him.
Aspiring Chinese-American writer Billi maintains a close relationship with her grandmother Nai Nai who lives in Changchun, China. After receiving a rejection letter for a Guggenheim Fellowship, Billi discovers from her parents that Nai Nai has been diagnosed with cancer, and may only have a few months left to live.
Through deception and manipulation of test results, the diagnosis is kept a secret from Nai Nai herself. Billi clashes with the family, and the doctor, over their deliberate dishonesty towards her grandmother, as a wedding for Billi’s cousin from Japan is planned in China as an excuse to unite the family to spend what is expected to be one last time with Nai Nai.
In the summer of 1979, in Thüringen, in East Germany, two families put together a crazy plan. They are desperate to leave the DDR for the ‘West’ and plan to flee in a homemade hot air balloon. After sewing and tinkering for weeks, the amateurs make their first attempt. Meters from the West German border, their balloon suffers from the rain and crash lands. Luckily, they manage to avoid being caught by the police. However, the wreckage from their escape attempt is found and that triggers a desperate manhunt. The tension rises as the families determine to try again, and a race against time ensues. On the one hand, the authorities, desperate to track down the traitors, become aware that a second attempt is being planned. On the other, the would-be escapees, conscious of the search drawing ever nearer, need to build a more robust, weatherproof balloon – and avoid leaving too many clues.