Missing Verses

A distressed Chinese-American pastor in his 50s, Zhao, harbors two illegal immigrants - a father and a son - who claim to be Christians to renew his faith and mold them into his ideal followers. Although Zhao initiates a subtle friendship with the taciturn son, he has no choice but to confront the father after witnessing a staggering incident in his church.

  • Jiaxin Wang
  • Jiaxin Wang
  • Chris Zilong Wang
  • Jessica Yiwen Qian
  • Michael C. Liu
    Key Cast
    "The Pastor"
  • Yinan Shi
  • Olivia Huilin Gao
    Production Designer
  • Wenrui Zhao
    Sound Mixer
  • Yige Duan
    Sound Mixer
  • Siying Li
  • Haina Zhou
    Sound Designer
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 29 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 3, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, ARRI
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - New York University Tisch School of the Arts
Director Biography - Jiaxin Wang

My main interest lies in telling stories that uncover certain untouched parts of reality we barely put our minds to. I wish to address subjects and issues that transcend the borders of race, culture, and language. These are themes rooted in the human experience and emit genuine emotions.

Born in Japan, raised in China, and then going to the U.S. for school as a teenager - my multinational experience and background have enabled me to combine the subtle conveyance of Asian artistry with structural and dramatic aspects in Western storytelling. Furthermore, it has initiated my tendency to attempt to shed light on universal matters - stories that would instigate resonance.

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Director Statement

In Missing Verses, I revolved the story around Zhao - a lonely servant of God living in a foreign land who begins to question his status quo. Job from the Old Testament always comes to mind when contemplating the story. Similar to Job, Zhao is gifted with unmerited suffering. Although he had devoted himself to God, his prayers remain unrecognized and unheard, like echoes bouncing off a wall. Zhao constantly waits for an answer to his call, the slightest act of confirmation and solace. Does the almighty set times for judgment? If so, why do people still look in vain? The ennui in Zhao’s life and the loss of followers have swayed his belief, and shaped doubt, eventually building up an existential crisis.

Then, the seemingly far-fetched encounter between Zhao and the father & son takes place, out of their intertwining needs. A vague parallel is built between the pastor and the son but is hindered and interrupted. The son witnesses the duality within people and the absurdity of life, how the Samatarian is left in agony, and the villain walks away in triumph. This will mold his future in an enigmatic sense. For Zhao, the encounter worsened his dangling state of being. Although he reaped hope and encouragement through connecting with the son, the sudden betrayal overwhelmed him with despair.

Coming from a traditionally Christian family surrounded by hopeful yet unfortunate people like Zhao, perhaps the film epitomizes part of my confusion revolving around the impermanence of life. What do we do if we start to question our places in the world, and the choices we make, but receive no answers? If there is a higher being, would the being reward and punish- or would it spectate?

Essentially, this is what I aim to achieve with my writing and films in a broader sense - to exemplify our confusion and raise the inevitable questions that we have as humans. I don’t hope to cultivate my audiences, as I do not have an answer - but shedding light on the unspoken would be valuable enough.