The story revolves around a rural family in the 2010s. The father and mother used to work in the city, but the father, disliking city life and harboring concerns and nostalgia for the land, asked the mother to return to the countryside to care for things. Over time, the mother began to miss her days in the city and grew tired of the monotonous and lonely rural life, so she had an affair with a man from out of town.

One day the father unexpectedly returned, and the ten-year-old boy, through his father's notebook, realized that his father already knew about his mother's affair. He silently observed the undercurrents between his parents. After the parents confessed to the affair, a heated argument eventually broke out, after which the mother suddenly disappeared. The boy flipped through the various deeds recorded in his father's notebook, suspecting that his father had killed his mother.

The boy watched his father's actions while verifying his suspicions. While burning straw, the father spoke of his past with the mother. The fire in the night alarmed the villagers, and the father was taken away. The truth in the notebook was revealed: the idea that the father had killed the mother was the boy's imagination. The boy, facing his broken family, fled from everything, filled with confusion and helplessness.

  • Yikai Hu
  • Yikai Hu
  • Minyi Yu
  • YangYu Lin
  • Zheyuan Hou
    Key Cast
  • Haoyu Guo
  • Yueqi Chen
    Sound Design
  • Project Type:
    Feature, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    family, mystery, black- white, Thriller, film noir
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 27 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 10, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    100,000 CNY
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    DigitalSony CineAltaV
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Communication University of ZheJiang
Director Biography - Yikai Hu

Yikai Hu, major in directing, just graduated from the Communication University of Zhejiang.

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Director Statement

The initial inspiration to write this story came from a thought I had in my childhood. Every time my parents argued, my mother would disappear for a few days, and I would worry that my father had killed her and hidden her body. This is reflected in the mentality of the boy in the story. I also lived in a rural area when I was young. Every dusk or late at night, the countryside would be filled with a dangerous and eerie atmosphere. The villagers would be busy with their farm work and preparing to cook at home, straw would occasionally make "crackling" noises in the earth stove, stray dogs would suddenly bark at the air, a few women would gather in the alleyways whispering, discussing the daily affairs in an ominous tone, the dead silence in the village late at night, etc., all these constituted my childhood memories of the countryside and became materials for my creation.

The above contents constitute the genre elements of the film: the disappearance of the mother, and whether the father is the murderer. However, digging deeper into the core values of the story, the individual predicaments of the parents have universal significance. The father follows the process of urbanization, struggling for survival in the city, but his attachment to the land has always been present in his heart. The mother, having experienced city life, is attracted by the modern, fresh, and beautiful things in the city, but she is trapped in the countryside and forced to manage the land. Their differing sentiments towards the land form a "siege"-style dilemma, which constitutes the deeper contradictions of the story.

The story designs a prop—a notebook—to make some changes to the narrative structure. As a mystery film, the main line of the middle part of the film is "the disappearance of the mother". The film's perspective shifts from an objective omniscience to the boy's point of view after he discovers the notebook. The narrative gradually delves into the boy's inner world, and the suspense about "the truth of the mother's disappearance" is revealed through the boy's perspective. The narrative structure of the mystery genre has been "simply" completed. At the end of the film, the father is taken away for burning straw, the boy takes out his father's notebook, and the real truth is revealed: the murder process before was the boy's imagination. How to transform the text content of the notebook into a narrative image, and let the audience know that the scene is the boy reading the notebook. When arranging the structure, I put the content of the notebook into the real narrative, using a surreal method to show that this part is "from the notebook". For example, in scene 9, the mother and her lover are flirting while playing cards, while the boy also goes to the game room (convenience store) to buy things. But the mother is not at the card table to let the audience understand that this is what the boy imagines after reading the notebook. As the story develops, the boy's imagination gets stronger. When fishing by the river, he also sees "the mother is conspiring with her lover". When the boy realizes in the second half that the father really killed the mother, the "murder imagination" is also completed.

The film style transitions from realism to psychological realism, so in the second half, the emotions become stronger, and thus, in terms of creation, the entire image gradually moves towards non-realism and stylization. This "gradual fantasizing process" is realized through visual means, including the unconventional visual and auditory style different from the first half of the film, using "jump cuts" and other unconventional visual and auditory techniques; the design of the home scene will also differ from the realism style before the "disappearance of the mother", leaning towards stage-like art design; in terms of tone and texture, it will present a "dry" feeling, contrasting with the "rain" at the beginning; sound design will also emphasize the boy's inner world more, a series of methods to lead the audience to follow the boy's perspective, to witness the breaking of this family.