Student Short Film Leaves Longlasting Impression

Rayna Perry, age 16

The student produced short film “Home,” recently screened at the Savannah Film Festival, follows the story of an elderly Chinese migrant worker, watching over an abandoned construction site, scheduled for demolition. On his last day at the site, a young girl wanders into his midst, and briefly breaks through the old man’s closed off demeanor. The film is entirely in Chinese with English subtitles, yet this hardly comes as a distraction to the viewer in ways that subtitles often can. The calm pacing and stunning cinematography mirror that of the lotus pond that rests in the center of the construction site, and acts somewhat as a centerpiece to the film itself.

The chemistry of the characters stems not from what they have in common, but in how they differ. The elderly man lives a life of tedium, and struggle, while life to the young city girl, no older than six, is currently one new discovery after another. “Home” takes its original exploration of homelessness and poverty in modern day China to an even deeper level, as the characters are united by a common search for love and belonging. The elderly man spends most of his time away from family due to the nature of his work, and the young girl is isolated by the unhealthy relationship of her parents.

The film attaches the audience to the fleeting bond between the main characters, but in a way that serves to share or inform, rather than relate to those watching the film. Even with the strong emotional pull, the abrupt and almost indifferent ending reminds the viewers that they are, indeed, only spectators. The conflict between the sobering reality of the characters and the audience’s desire to see them meet a happy ending truly caused “Home” to stick with festival goers, even after seeing over a dozen other short films within that hour.

The story candidly tackles universal themes of poverty, loneliness and abandonment, contrasted with those of adventure, and unlikely friendships, without rushing or overloading the viewer. The visual and written aspects of the film are balanced out, so as not to sacrifice a good plot for the sake of showcasing beautiful cinematography, or vice versa.

Not only does this standout student film expertly tell the story of a young girl and an elderly man meeting by spontaneous chance, “Home” prompts audiences to question the true definition of the word.