Vietnam’s first children’s sci-fi feature and the country’s second-ever entry to the sci-fi genre, Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy, is opening Friday in North American theaters, one week after its May 27 home territory release.

The film is based on a beloved 1970s Czechoslovakian television series that became a cultural sensation in Vietnam throughout the 1980s and ‘90s. The popular series has been credited with influencing many trends from children’s haircuts to baby name choices.

MAIKA premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in the Kids section.

After losing his mother to illness and his best friend to an unexpected move, a young boy discovers a crashed spaceship and makes a new friend with awesome powers (even though she may need a little help with her earthly social skills). Together, the duo embarks on a zany, fun-filled adventure that explores themes of friendship, family, and compassion, all while coming up with creative, kid-approved strategies to take on the bad guys and help Maika find her way home.

“MAIKA is really a special film, and one that successfully maintains its heartfelt and hilarious core without being afraid to tackle hard topics in a way that kids can understand and identify with, all while helping adults remember both the magic and the frustrations of childhood,” said Doris Pfardrescher, President and CEO at Well Go USA. “This is a story that simultaneously celebrates its roots and transcends interpersonal differences—be they in age, cultural background, or nationality—to speak to audiences on a very universal human level, which we could all use a little more of right now.”

Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy is written and directed by Sundance alumnus Ham Tran, who earned his MFA in Directing from the UCLA School of Film and Television.

Tran says he felt an immediate connection to the story given its similarities to his own journey, as he was concurrently navigating his own early grief after having lost his mother the year prior. Tran, who immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 8, has already broken new ground in Vietnamese filmmaking several times over.

In addition to directing Bitcoin Heist, the country’s first-ever heist film, Tran has earned numerous accolades for his prior works, such as Journey From the Fall, the first feature film about the war in Vietnam tackled from a Vietnamese perspective, which premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and went on to earn 16 international film festival awards for Best Feature Film.

Leading international and indie film distributor Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired North American rights to Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy. It was executive produced by Quang Binh Nguyen Phan, Bich Hien Ngo Thi, Francis Smith and Eric Tu, and co-produced by Jenni Trang Le, Anderson Le and Bao Nguyen on behalf of EAST Films, the company behind 2020’s Sundance-premiering Bruce Lee documentary Be Water. The deal was negotiated by Doris Pfardrescher on behalf of Well Go USA and Tenten Wei with EST Media on behalf of the filmmakers.