Yin Ru Chen Yan

Return to Dust
Ma and Guiying lead lives that are similarly sheltered and difficult. He is a reticent farmer, the last of his family to remain unmarried; she is disabled and infertile, and long past what is considered to be marrying age in rural China. Their arranged marriage, uniting two people who are accustomed to isolation and humiliation, would appear to force them into a relationship that will make life worse for both of them. But instead, they seize the opportunity to rise above themselves and discover their shared destiny. They learn how to become close companions, how to speak up, how to care for each other and even how to smile. All this in spite of the hard work required of them by their quintessential bond with the land and the trials that await them on their common path. Against a backdrop of topics such as the exploitation of farm workers, forced urbanisation, the uprooting of traditions and poverty, Li Ruijun – who returns to his birthplace of Gaotai, in the northern province of Gansu – prioritises the characters’ worldview, with its inherent naivety and fragility, through an act of trust and love that infuses the film with subtle tenderness and profound humanity.
by Li Ruijun
with Wu Renlin, Hai Qing
People’s Republic of China 2022 Chinese 131’ Colour World premiere


  • Wu Renlin (Youtie Ma)
  • Hai Qing (Guiying Cao)


Written and Directed by Li Ruijun
Cinematography Wang Weihua
Editing Li Ruijun
Music Peyman Yazdanian
Sound Wang Changrui
Production Design Li Ruijun, Han Dahai
Costumes Wu Jingyin
Make-Up Wu Jingyin
Assistant Director Li Daiqing
Production Manager Zhao Shuai
Casting Li RuiQi
Producers Zhang Min, Li Yan
Executive Producer Qin Hong
Co-Producers Sun Yang, Feng Qiong, Wang Tianye, Zhao Yiyan
Co-Production Qizi Films Beijing
Beijing J.Q. Spring Pictures Beijing
Dream Media Beijing
Aranya Pictures Beijing
ShangHai Shigu Film Shanghai
Han Zhou QinZiZai Shanghai

World sales

Produced by

Hucheng No.7 Films

Li Ruijun

Born in Gansu Province, China in 1983, he began studying painting and music at the age of 14. In 2003, he graduated from the Management Institute of the China National Ministry of Radio, Film and Television. His films have been selected for festivals including Venice, Cannes and Tokyo. River Road screened in the Generation section of the Berlinale in 2015.


2007 Xia Zhi (Summer Solstice) 2010 Lao Lv Tou (The Old Donkey) 2012 Gao Su Ta Men, Wo Cheng Bai He Qu Le (Fly with the Crane) 2014 Jia Zai Shui Cao Feng Mao De Di Fang (River Road) 2017 Lu Guo Wei Lai (Walking Past the Future) 2022 Yin Ru Chen Yan (Return to Dust)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2022