A baby who, diagnosed with trisomy 18, is expected to live only one year; a man devastated by the recent death of his wife; and a father and son whose familial bond is as strong as any other, despite not being blood related — at first glance, these people seem like they have nothing in common.

But united through the lens of film director Tomo Goda, the audience learns how these people and their families deal with the universal cycle of life and death. Goda's documentary "Umareru Zutto Issho (Being Born Together Forever)," which follows the trials, tribulations and fortune of three families in Japan, opened in theaters Nov. 22.

"I didn't grow up in a happy family, and I wanted to explore what other families were like, what it means to be a parent," Goda says as he discusses the theme of his work in a recent interview. "Through the creation of this film, I saw each family face individual difficulties and obstacles and I learned what it was like to be born, to live, to die and to be left behind."