Home Entertainment Recording the Countryside with Film: Sixteen Years of Director Li Ruijun | Southern Weekend

Recording the Countryside with Film: Sixteen Years of Director Li Ruijun | Southern Weekend

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Recording the Countryside with Film: Sixteen Years of Director Li Ruijun | Southern Weekend

“Hidden in the Dust” shows the change of seasons and the emotional changes of the two people. (Photo provided by the crew/picture)

A middle-aged man who works silently, a middle-aged woman who stumbles, a donkey pulling his head down…

These are the three most important characters in the movie “Hidden in the Dust”.

There is not much dialogue in the film, most of which rely on actions to advance the narrative. The hands and feet of farmers are restless and work all year round. The audience follows the work of the protagonist and feels the change of seasons, witnessing an unblessed love.

Ma Youtie, an “old bachelor” in his 40s, whose parents and two older brothers died young, no one offered him a marriage, so he lived in the house of his only relative, his third brother, and helped him raise sheep and farm until he got older. , he began to be despised. In order to send the fourth child away, the third brother arranged a “well-intentioned” blind date, and the trustee brought Gui Ying, who was also despised by his family, and a pair of older men and women got married like this.

After the marriage, Ma Youtie found out that Guiying was not only disabled, but also had urinary incontinence. He secretly decided to take Guiying to see a doctor in the city. Gradually, the two got out of the haze and ran their lives with heart, building houses, raising animals, planting food, and composing their own “idyllic songs”. But the accident still came, Guiying fell into the water and died, and everything was “hidden into the dust”.

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After five years of violating the big screen, director Li Ruijun returned to his hometown of Gaotai County, Zhangye, Gansu, to make this somewhat “silent” movie. To paraphrase Internet buzzwords, this is a story of “first marriage and then love”. Two people who did not know each other formed a family and developed feelings, which did not seem to meet people’s expectations for love.

Li Ruijun told the Southern Weekend reporter that in many cases, such feelings cannot be understood in terms of the city’s values. Through the story of the fourth child and Guiying, what he wants to show is “awakening and self-discovery”: “They are like the wheat placed in the soil, and they begin to discover that they have the ability to love and be loved, and have the ability to love and be loved. The value of being relied on by others is a process of rediscovering oneself.”

back to hometown

Li Ruijun was born in 1983, and it was the early 1990s when his village was electrified on a large scale. He still remembered that when he was a child, his grandfather’s adobe house had a photo torn from a calendar showing the city view of Beijing. In the countryside at that time, many people liked to decorate their homes with this kind of calendar, and children used it as a window to imagine the appearance of a big city.

In high school, because of his father’s work, Li Ruijun’s family moved from the village to the county seat, and the family’s homestead was transferred to the villagers, and he gradually left the village he was familiar with. When Li Ruijun walked out of his hometown, was admitted to university, and made a few movies, he realized: “What can a city represent? It can only represent a part of China, and the more real and common situation is that most Chinese people Living in a rural world“.

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As he grew older, Li Ruijun began to say goodbye to his childhood memories one by one. The old house in the family had long been abandoned by the later owner; after the death of his grandparents, his uncle bought a new house, and the old house was demolished, and now it has become an open space. A few years ago, for the sake of building the village’s appearance, the village had a policy: if they were willing to demolish the abandoned houses left in the village, the government could subsidize 15,000 yuan. Many fellow villagers working abroad chose to accept the arrangement.

All these changes were written into the script of “Hidden in the Dust” by Li Ruijun. When the villagers were abandoning their homeland, the fourth child and Guiying were sticking to the land. They made brick walls and built their own walls step by step. new home.

At the beginning of 2020, Li Ruijun returned to his hometown to prepare the film. The original plan was to divide it into five shots and finish the filming in one year. Soon, the epidemic struck. In order not to delay the progress, he did not dare to leave the village. At first, when the crew couldn’t get in, he mobilized his family and neighbors to participate in the filming, and asked his uncle to play the fourth male lead. They also built a new home for the fourth child in the movie.

After Guiying’s death in the movie, the fourth child chose to leave. The new house he had worked so hard to build was demolished by bulldozers in exchange for 15,000 yuan for his nephew. Li Ruijun named the film “Hidden in the Dust”, and he wanted to tell the audience that things that disappeared are not really no longer there, they are just hidden.

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In February 2022, “Hidden in the Dust” was shortlisted for the main competition unit of the 72nd Berlin Film Festival, and Li Ruijun became the first Chinese post-80s director to be shortlisted for the main competition unit of the “Three Film Festivals”.

In order to play Cao Guiying, actor Hai Qing went to Li Ruijun’s hometown to experience life in advance. (Photo provided by the crew/picture)

“Working outside is not the only option”

Southern Weekend:“Hidden in the Dust” is a film about the land, and the land is the motif of your creation. At different times, the protagonists in your works show different attitudes towards the land. How did these contents come from?

Li Ruijun:The attitude of the characters in my films to the land is changing, such as “Old Donkey”

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