Let’s face it: As Americans, we’re all immigrants. It might have been two years or two hundred, but almost everyone that claims to be American has ancestors that originated in another country. Now, how many of us have retained the cultural traditions of our respective motherlands, or have these been lost in the effort to integrate into the mainstream American lifestyle?

In her first directing role since 1998, Anna Chi explores the ways in which rediscovering (or sometimes, just plain discovering) your roots can bring a family closer together.

Dim Sum Funeral is an honest, heartfelt film about a dysfunctional family of first generation Chinese Americans that have distanced themselves from each other and their cultural heritage. When Mrs. Xiao, the manipulative “Dragon Lady” matriarch of the family dies, her last wish is that her four children reunite as a family and let go of the resentment they’ve been harboring towards her for the wrong they each feel she’s done against them in the past in the only way she knows how – by calling them all together for a traditional Chinese funeral.

Although emotionally aloof Elizabeth (Julia Nickson-Soul), adulterous Alexander (Russell Wong), single mom Victoria (Françoise Yip) and lesbian kung-fu star Meimei (Steph Song) have no idea what the words “traditional Chinese funeral” entail when they walk in the door, their week of mourning rituals becomes a time to learn about themselves, their mother and what it means to be a family.

Many of the cast members were drawn to Dim Sum Funeral because of the honesty of the script. Anna Chi, a former poster child for Red China, drew on her experiences with her own mother to aid in her directing.

“I couldn’t talk to my mother the way mothers and daughters talk in the Western culture,” Chi says. “I just knew my mother was an angry person. I think there was some kind of anger in her about losing her father and losing her son and she didn’t get the kind of help she needed.”

Of course, this is in sharp contrast to much of the cast, most of whom hail from North America.

“Everything was foreign to me coming into this, learning about the whole funeral process and everything that goes with it. The only thing I feel like I know that’s Chinese is food and even then again, I didn’t really know about food until I went to China,” says Kelly Hu.

Bai Ling (who was born and raised in China) also admits that many of these traditions have been lost even in Chinese culture.

It would be impossible to talk about the film without acknowledging the ensemble cast – which also includes Talia Shire as the Xiao family housekeeper, Ling as Meimei’s edgy lesbian lover and Hu as Alexander’s beauty queen wife. With the exception of Shire, Chi has worked with all the main cast before, and it is all of the actors’ previous relationships with each other that lends an earnestness to this labor of love that can only be drawn from real experience. And that’s certainly what Dim Sum Funeral is.

The film is “from the heart – it’s not for money,” Ling says.

And that’s part of the real beauty of Dim Sum Funeral – even though it presents traditions that are outlandish to the modern American, it’s actually about the closeness and the bond of family, which is something everyone can relate to.

Dim Sum Funeral releases in select theaters June 12.