Directed by : Li Ruijun | 2022 | Cert: TBC 131 mins
In the rural Gansu region of China, Ma and Cao are two people seen only as inconveniences by their respective families. They are cast off and forced into an arranged marriage.
Living a simple but challenging farming life, the couple gradually fall in love. Together, they decide to build their own house. However, a state-ordered demolition process threatens their very way of life.
The latest film from director Li Ruijun is a patient, tender love story about one couple’s fight for survival. Elegantly shot and beautifully acted, it shows a side of Chinese society rarely seen on cinema screens. It proved a surprise commercial hit in China, before being targeted by local censors.
While Return to Dust is a small, arthouse film, it proved a surprise commercial success in its native China on release – topping the box office in early September 2022, two months after its initial release. It won praise for its honest, grounded portrayal of rural China and the people living there.
However, the film then became a target for local censors, with authorities changing the film’s ending in mid-September. The film was subsequently pulled entirely from Chinese cinema screens and streaming services by the end of September, and discussion of the film was heavily censored on social media sites. The original version of the film will be available to Irish audiences.
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