CENTRAL PARK, Manhattan (PIX11) — Can music and a waltz really change a person’s life?

That’s the theme of a new film about one immigrant’s journey from China to New York City called Never Fade Away. 

Begin as infinity again. The movie opened on the last day of AAPI Heritage Month and had a rather unusual beginning. 

It began with an anti-Asian verbal assault in Central Parkin March of 2020, the very start of the pandemic.

Upper West Sider Donna Weng Friedman was walking her dog at one in the afternoon when she said she became the target of an anti-Asian rant. 

“He came lunging towards me and starts screaming in my face every anti-Asian slur I’ve ever heard,” Friedman told PIX11 News. “I was in shock. I was frozen, and he screamed at me, ‘Go back to China or get what you deserve.’“

Friedman said she didn’t leave her apartment for seven months. 

Instead, this accomplished pianist said she dug deep inside herself to think about her heritage and all the sacrifices her immigrant parents made for her.

That inspired Never Fade Away, a 12-minute film featuring music and dance to tell the story of Friedman’s father, who fled China in the 1940s after the Japanese invasion.

He arrived in this country without money, friends or job prospects, but he saved up enough to buy a radio.

“Music gave him hope,” Friedman told PIX11 News. “When he heard the music on the radio, he realized that a country that has such beautiful music had to be worth fighting for.”

With choreography by Ariel Grossman, the director of Ariel Rivka Dance, the film features Chun Wai Chan, the first Chinese principal dancer in New York City Ballet’s 75-year history. 

Never Fade Away tells the true story of how a radio and a waltz changed her father’s life. 

“What started as a love letter to my parents has turned into this little film which means so much to me,” Friedman told PIX11News. 

Never Fade Away will have its world premiere on Wednesday, May 31, at 7 p.m. at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts and runs through June 2.

For more ticket information, go to ArielRivkadance.com.