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Richmond Film Society Presents ‘Return to Dust’

£3 – £5


April 9
8:00 pm
£3 – £5


The Exchange
75 London Rd
Twickenham, London TW1 1BE United Kingdom
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Banned in China shortly after its release, Return to Dust is a profound and tender love story between two outcasts. A middle-aged rural couple, cast off by their families, are forced into an arranged marriage and proceed to nurture their farm and livestock amidst backbreaking work and financial hardship. Having been obliged to leave one unoccupied property, they build their own farmhouse, using home-made mud bricks and old wooden posts salvaged from previous demolitions.


During the course of their subsistence living and mutual endeavours, they develop a warm and tender emotional bond, which brings them great comfort. They resist pressure to move into a new apartment in a high-rise public housing building, but jeopardy remains in the form of a government official who is unhappy with the existence of the self-built farmhouse.


No explanation was provided by the Chinese government for the banning of the film, which did not proffer any criticism of the political regime. Its success was unexpected for a low-budget art house production and it appears to have gone unnoticed by the authorities initially until it developed genuine traction at the box office. The picture it presents of the rural poor is presumably at odds with that which the Chinese leadership wish to project, both internally and to the world at large. For his part, the Chinese dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, described the ban as predictable. Whatever the reason, Return to Dust is a deeply intimate and personal work – with many of the cast made up of the director’s own relatives and local villagers – and it a film that the Chinese government does not want you to see.

£5 (£3 full-time students). Members go free.




– Directed by: Ruijun Li

– Rating: PG

– Written By: Ruijun Li

– Runtime: 131 minutes