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Chinese film

Return to Dust, China

RETURN TO DUST [China], Thursday 23 March, 8pm

By archive, Season 24 films




“Hit Chinese film Return to Dust has vanished from China’s cinemas”

Return to Dust,  a low-budget art-house Chinese film became a deeply unlikely commercial smash, topping the Chinese box office ahead of various blockbusters. But then there would also be the equally strange, far sadder tale of how it vanished from cinemas. Seemingly banned merely for spotlighting the hard lives of the rural poor, the sleeper hit appears a snapshot of an airless political climate — and a symbol of the vulnerability of art…

Two weeks after becoming the most popular movie in China, Return to Dust disappeared without warning from cinemas across the country. The streaming sites on which it had also been released no longer carried it, either…

No explanation was provided. Indeed, it has never been officially confirmed that the film was banned. But ever since it has remained impossible to see legally in China. – Financial Times

Read The Guardian article about censorship accusations.

Humble, unassuming Ma and timid Cao have been cast off by their families and forced into an arranged marriage. They have to combine their strength and build a home to survive. In the face of much adversity, an unexpected bond begins to blossom, as both Ma and Cao, uniting with Earth’s cycles, create a haven for themselves in which they can thrive. A story about eternal love, against the odds.

Return to Dust is many things — a vivid portrait of China’s hardscrabble rural north-west, an unexpected victim of state censorship — but it is first and last a love story. – Financial Times

It’s a gorgeous, quietly affecting film that finds an unassuming beauty in this simple life in rural China, but which doesn’t shy away from the extreme hardships faced by the very poorest. – The Observer

Return To Dust isn’t always an easy watch, but it’s a thought-provoking one with beautifully-judged performances that radiate warmth and encourage empathy. – Deadline Hollywood

100% Rotten Tomatoes

  • Return to Dust
  • China, 2022 | Language: Chinese| 131 minutes | Cert: Club
  • Director: Li Ruijun
  • Cast: Wu Renlin, Hai Qing, Yang Guangrui
  • Foreign language films are subtitled.  Cert: CLUB for over 18s.
  • Tickets: €8.50/€7 concession
  • Cork Cine Club is absorbing cost of all booking fees.
  • Book online:
  • Pay at the door by card or cash. Exact change appreciated.


By archive, Season 22 films

Event cinema!  We show this film in two parts on one night, starting at 6pm.  There will be a 20-minute interval during which we’ll serve wine and a nibble. Total running time including the interval is 3 hours and 20 minutes.

 A sprawling yet personal portrait of human resilience that traces the lives of two interconnected Chinese families over three decades from the 1980s to the present.

The epic story of two married couples enduring personal tragedy and state-imposed suffering is an almost unbearably poignant, profound masterpiece. – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian ★★★★★

A gorgeous, melancholy masterpiece. So measured is the pacing, so sinuous the timeline, so understated the subtle ache of the performances that you don’t immediately realise that Wang Xiaoshuai’s exquisite three-hour drama has been performing the emotional equivalent of open-heart surgery on the audience since pretty much the first scene. – Wendy Ide,  The Guardian  ★★★★★

Intimate in focus yet epic in size and scope, So Long, My Son sets a heartbreaking saga of family tragedy against the changing face of modern China. – 100% from Rotten Tomatoes ★★★★★

Wang Xiaoshuai’s expansive drama contains phenomenal central performances. – Irish Times ★★★★

China, 2019 | Language: Chinese | 185 minutes | Cert: CLUB

Director: Wang Xiaoshuai

Cast: Wang Jingchun, Yong Mei