Written In Dust

A contemporary silent film: Friends. Love. Money. Lies. Betrayal.

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The Pitch

Written In Dust is event cinema and music performance: a contemporary silent film set in Beijing, with live music accompaniment, a fusion of traditional Chinese and modern British, by classical Chinese musician Ling Peng and pianist/guitarist Andy Middleton.

The film, written and directed by Gareth Rees, tells the tragic tale of three young Chinese rural migrants who come in search of the new life that modern Beijing promises. The tensions created by the pursuit of money and the repression of love lead to moral corruption, betrayal, lies and the ultimate tragedy.

Ling Peng, on Erhu (two-stringed Chinese violin), Guzheng (Chinese zither) and Xun (wind instrument), and Andy Middleton, on piano and guitar with supporting electronica, perform live to powerful and haunting effect, tracing the film’s journey through moods of early optimism, internal struggle, violent threat, tragic melancholy and tenuous hope. They sample their live performance, reworking and looping their melodies and adding improvised layers, as the three migrants find themselves morally lost in the in the shadows cast by the city lights.

Shot on a micro budget and with a classical cinematic sensibility, the film shows contemporary Beijing as we rarely see it, and tells a tale which resonates universally. The fusion of traditional Chinese and modern British music with electronic live music performance underlines the themes of tradition and modernity within the film, and offers a spellbinding and moving experience for the audience. This is a film and live music event like no other: A cross-cultural collaboration in film and music that can only be experienced live.


There are trailers on the Written In Dust YouTube Channel
Film with live music performance:

2015 London Screenings
November 1st, 2.30 pm       ArtHouse Cinema, Crouch End
November 12th, 7.30 pm    The Cinema Museum, Kennington
November 14th, 7.30 pm    The Cinema Museum, Kennington
November 22nd, 3.00 pm  The Rio Cinema, Dalston Kingsland

All screenings followed by Q&A with the director and musicians

Key people

The Director
Gareth Rees has had fiction and documentary films screened at the BBC British Shorts Festival, Raindance Film Festival, Sheffield International Documentary Festival, Aarhus Festival of Popular Arts and on Channel 4. He has shown his experimental live performance documentaries at the ICA (London), Filmstock Film Festival and Tate Britain (Late at Tate: Protest, accompanying the Mark Wallinger exhibition). Written in Dust is his first feature film, and was selected by the Edinburgh Film Guild for their New Cinema 2014 season of screenings.

The Director of Photography
Mika Matilla graduated in cinematography from Tampere School of Arts and Communications, Finland, and worked for several years as a news cameraman in Beijing. A master of visual styles, from contemporary hand-held to classical, he is a director in his own right, with his feature-length documentary about Chinese contemporary artists, Chimeras (2013), screening at over 30 international film festivals, often in competition, and winning the Jury Prize at Salem Film Fest 2015.

Production partner in China
In 2008, Jun Ren produced the United Concerns documentary ‘Joint attention: Family influence on global climate change’, selected for the Florida Palm Beach International Film Festival. In 2010, he was an executive producer on the China – New Zealand co-production film ‘The Red House’, selected for the 2013 New Zealand International Film Festival. In 2012, he was selected as one of Asia 150 Breakthrough Artists for The Asian Pitch Young Artist Support Programme in Singapore.

The Musicians
Ling Peng is a classically trained, professional musician who was initially a teacher and Erhu soloist at Sichuan Conservatory of Music in China. She moved to the UK 20 years ago and has performed extensively throughout the UK and Europe (Luxembourg Sinfonietta). Over the last few years, she has made music in different contexts (see details further below), away from her classical tradition, to develop composition and performance skills in new directions of improvisation and collaboration across musical genres and storytelling.

Andrew Middleton is a guitarist, pianist and saxophonist, and is a regular on the live music scene in the UK, appearing in an eclectic range of bands and orchestras in equally diverse venues e.g. London clubs; Arts centres and galleries; Festivals. With a BA and an MA in Music Composition, he has been a principal organiser of Coventry University’s Symposium on Experimental Music.


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