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An experimental film based on Chinese medicine and Daoist theory.


Written and directed by Ariel He and Janice Gu, ‘Return’ is an intimate experimental art film that explores an out-of-the-ordinary technique to convert jewelry into the mineral jade. Mankun Guo portrays the sole character, who utilizes pathways on her physique to propel the process. The film is briefly animated with black and white cinematography throughout (excluding the vibrancy of the Jade color). Viewers may be perplexed by the unorthodox narrative – which is based on Chinese medicine and Daoist theory – but the entire viewing experience is undeniably alluring.

The 12-minute short, an excessive runtime that could be cut in half, opens with the central protagonist preparing the procedure. After seemingly pouring and consuming candle wax, she follows the instructions for the alteration. Dialogue is omitted with a knee-high sound track – which may disengage viewers. The film runs at a trying pace that is equally disjoining.

With appreciation and respect, Ariel He and Janice Gu have crafted an intriguing tale that is influenced by their Asian culture and practices. In spite of the unexciting narrative, Mankun Guo delivers a reasonable performance throughout, albeit humdrum. Technically, the film is nicely shot with quality cinematography throughout. The poetic film, which showcases themes of spirituality, art and culture, would benefit from a slimmer runtime to keep viewers enchanted.

Return Short Film


Runtime: 12 min

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