The Absent

This is a story about seeking and returning.
Ivan, an introverted young Russian returns to his hometown of Tacheng in Xinjiang after roamed for years outside. His mother and sister still complain that he ran away from home alone in the past.Soon after returning home, Ivan takes the camera and goes to the town as if to escape.
He checks into an old-fashioned hotel in town. He unexpectedly meets Refati, the owner who is a Tatar, and Xiaoyu, the lodger next door.
The three of them stay at the hotel in the blizzard, and they all seem to be looking for a way out.

  • dan Lu
  • dan Lu
  • Tseden Pema
    Balloon, Jinpa, Tharlo
  • yi Wang
    Key Cast
    "Xiao yu"
  • dier Na
    Key Cast
  • fati Re
    Key Cast
    "Re fati"
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Family, Ethnic minority
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    May 20, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    3,000,000 CNY
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Chinese, Kazakh, Russian, Tatar
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - dan Lu

Lu Dan is a female director from Xinjiang, China. She graduated from Communication University of China. She's also a screenwriter and editor, her works include "Peacock Butterfly" and some documentaries.The Absent is her debut feature film.

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Director Statement

(This version is a working version, and we have not yet completed creating sound or music.)
The film focuses on the Russians and Tatars less depicted in Chinese literature and movies. Especially the Chinese Tatar ethnic group, which has the smallest population in China, currently only has over 3000 people. Tacheng, Xinjiang is one of the areas where they live most densely. As ethnic groups migrating from outside China, only the older generation of them still retains their own living habits and traditional culture, and most young people, like the young people of other ethnic groups, are far away from home and seek development in big cities, as if they had become a new type of 'Nomad'.
I was born and raised in Xinjiang since childhood, and at the age of eighteen, I left my hometown for the first time to travel alone. With the growth of age and my father passed away, many years of living in a foreign place have made me begin to re-understand the relationship between myself and my hometown. The childhood playmates, my father's house, and old ballads often haunt my dreams. I started trying to write, and went back to the familiar land to shoot my first film.
This is a story about seeking and returning. Ivan, a Russian youth, Re Fati, a Chinese Tatars hotel owner, and Xiao Yu, a Han girl, met in a small hotel in the border town in winter due to different situations. They are either looking for or themselves being the 'absent person'. In a way, they fill each other's gaps.
During the production of the film, I encountered many difficult moments, and when I was most frustrated and even wanted to give up, it was director Pema Tseden who gave me encouragement and support, and participated in the investment to complete this film. To me, he is a teacher and more like a father.
I still remember a favorite director saying that true happiness only comes from broken hearts, hardships, and pains experienced. Unless we face death directly and learn to coexist with it, we cannot appreciate life. Just like the situation faced by the three protagonists in the film:how should those left behind face their future lives when their loved ones leave?
My shepherd has left. Anyway, I will continue to complete this film well.
I hope that one day, the story of this small border town in Xinjiang can meet the audience on the big screen.
I will also carry the teacher's expectations and become a more powerful and qualified female director.