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Since 2020, my sense of time has become blurry. Days repeated themselves and everyday life fell into an unfamiliar pattern. Staying at one place has never felt so unsettling. I picked up the project now entitled JET LAG, to keep track of the anxiety and alienation caused by Covid, to study intimacy during quarantine, and to look for answers to my family’s mystery by way of a VHS tape and other footage that I had shot during a family trip to Myanmar.

The film begins with an inquiry into my Grandma’s missing father, who left China for Myanmar in the 1940s, and later became a monk. Grandma was one of the witnesses of this immigration wave from China to Southeast Asia. She has been missing her father since his departure, when she was only five years old. By accompanying Grandma on her journey to get closer to her father, I have also been trying to figure out the weight of memories. Why does someone who has been absent for her whole life mean this much to her? As a single child—a bisexual woman—who lives in China’s ever-changing society, I feel at constant odds with family ties.

It reached a point where I felt the urge to turn on the camera, to point it towards myself and my own relationships. The film no longer remained purely visual archaeology, but instead became an essay reflecting on gender, the absence of fatherhood, diaspora, and the liability of memories. Where are we now, where will we be and how are we going to carry on with the burden of past happenings, which to this day still feel so vivid?

Zheng Lu Xinyuan

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