New Cinema 5: Written in Dust

Friday 21st March at 18:00 – Saturday 22nd March at 18:00 – Sunday 23rd March at 15:00
UPDATE: We are proud to announce that the Sunday 15:00 screening will feature a guest musician:
Clarinettist Alex South of Glasgow’s The One Ensemble will be contributing to the live score
All shows start promptly at scheduled times, and will be followed by Q&As with the filmmakers and musicians
All screenings take place at the Roxy Assembly Upstairs – 2 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9SU
All tickets £4 – please book in advance via or pay on the door (doors open 30 minutes before performances)

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Written in Dust poster

The world premiere screenings of a British-Chinese modern silent film.

Shot without permission from the Chinese government, Gareth Rees’s first feature film, Written in Dust, gives a rare look at both sides of contemporary Beijing: both the gleaming spires of industry and a booming economy, but seen from the perspective of the struggling rural migrants who live in the slums that dominates the city’s outskirts.

The film itself is a rare attempt to produce a silent film with completely modern sensibilities, and which does not attempt to be either an evocation or a pastiche of 1920s silent-film techniques. It proudly acknowledges its silent-film influences in its classical story and straightforward treatment whilst simultaneously taking full advantage of the low-budget approach which modern-day digital filmmaking allows.

The film’s tale is a simple one: three young workers come in search of the new life that modern Beijing promises, but are ultimately led towards a path of moral corruption and a series of betrayals. It is a story which would not have been out of place in the silent era, as its director is quick to admit. It therefore seems perfect that such a story should have been filmed in Beijing – which, throughout the film, begins to feel itself like the perfect embodiment of a fusing of the ancient with the modern.

On top of all this, the film’s bespoke live score is also an admirable melding of traditional and modern techniques, composed and performed by classical Chinese musician Ling Peng, electronic music artist Kamal Joory and pianist/guitarist Andy Middleton. Their combination of live acoustic and electric instruments with electronic sampling and re-mixing adds yet another fascinating aspect of fusion to the proceedings.

You can find a review of the film’s Nottingham test screening, which took place in January 2014, here, and find the film’s trailer – incorporating music and footage of this performance – below:

New Cinema 5 screenings made possible by the essential support of Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland