Terra e polvere (Yin Ru Chen Yan)

The arranged marriage of Youtie and Guiying, a man and a woman living very difficult lives, seems to lead inevitably to the sum of two lonelinesses. Of two poverties (social, emotional, emotional). But from this meeting, tender and demure, a solid and precious bond will take shape day after day…

The director says, “In the film, there is a comparison between the modern world and the traditional way of life, because China is developing very fast, and unevenly, we are rushing toward a more modern way of life. There is a great trend of modernization. In the film you can see the transition between the two societies, from the old to the new world, from the old to new ways of living. I think this is something that is happening in every country. I wanted to represent this collision of systems.”

“Return to Dust,” a title-revelation of the Berlinale and the Udine Far East Film Festival, where it won the Black Dragon Award and the Silver Mulberry Award, tells of love through the silences and peasant rhythms of rural China. It is a sweet and sorrowful work that tastes of the earth and the seasons. If Li Ruijun has entrusted the role of Guiying to an experienced actress like Hai Qing (“Fire on the Plain,” “Operation Red Sea,” “Sacrifice”), he has instead called on an absolute beginner like Wu Renlin, that is, a real farmer (as well as Li’s own uncle), to act as her counterpoint. A choice that imparts further naturalness to the dimension, harsh and suspended, of “Land and Dust”: a film so far from the noise of civilization and so close to the viewers’ souls.

Terra e polvere (Yin Ru Chen Yan)

Li Ruijun

China 2023



Li Ruijun (1983, Gansu), one of the leading figures in China’s new independent cinema, began studying music and visual arts from the age of 14. He graduated in 2003 and worked as a director for television programs. He made his debut as a feature film director in 2006. His films, often shot in his home village of Gaotai in Gansu and starring mainly his relatives and friends, center on the relationship between the individual and the land, and the attitude of rural communities toward existential issues in a changing country.

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