Berlin competition film ‘Return to Dust’ sells out in UK, Ireland and Spain

Berlinale competition title “Return to Dust”, written and directed by China’s Li Ruijun, has been sold to Modern Films for the UK and Ireland, and BTeam Pictures for Spain. The film has already been picked up by several other European distributors. M-Appeal handles global sales.

Previously reported buyers are Alambique (Portugal), Trigon Film (Switzerland), Ama Films/Stergiakis Brothers (Greece), ARP (France) and September Film (Benelux).

The film centers on humble and unassuming Ma and shy Cao, who were rejected by their families and forced into an arranged marriage. They must combine their forces and build a house to survive.

It was described by Variety reviewer Jessica Kiang as a “gripping, beautifully framed drama”. She writes, “As a portrait of the dying end of a traditional way of life and the rapid decimation of China’s outlying rural communities, ‘Return to Dust’ is powerful, often poetic in its overwhelming imagery. As a meditation on later-life companionship rewards, it’s elegiac, featuring two unusually likeable and restrained performances.

The film was produced by Qin Hong, alongside Zhang Min and Li Yan.

Modern Films Founder and CEO Eve Gabereau said, “Li Ruijun’s characters are beautifully designed and her storytelling is very emotional. It’s a movie to get out of the pandemic and dig deep to appreciate what we have.

Other films distributed by Modern Films this year include Berlinale Silver Bear winner “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” and Oscar nominee “Drive My Car,” both directed by Ryūsuke Hamaguchi.

BTeam Pictures co-founder and partner Ania Jones said, “We were impressed by the simplicity and beauty with which the director expresses the growing love and respect between the protagonists, and their struggle to live in harmony. with nature amid China’s growing growth. modernity. It brings us back to the simplicity of feelings and of life.

BTeam Pictures’ release slate includes Academy Award-nominated Best Documentary Feature ‘The Mole Agent’, Best International Picture Oscar-winning ‘Another Round’, and shortlisted ‘Forgotten We’ll Be’. during the last edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

Li Ruijun has made six feature films, which tend to focus on the relationship between people and the land they live in, as well as the rural attitude towards family, life and death in a rapidly changing China. His movies are mostly set in his hometown of Gaotai, with his close friends and family starring in them.

His previous films include “Walking Past the Future” (2017), which played in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, “River Road” (2015), which screened at Tokyo Intl. Film Festival and Berlinale Generation, and “Fly With the Crane” (2012), which played in Venice.

Martin E. Berry