Skip to content

Floating Dust

Wen Hai

Release year: 2003

Run time: 111 min

Film type: Documentary


This film describes the life of some ordinary people in a small town in southern China. Among them are a recent college graduate, a businessman, and a government office worker. Although the country is supposedly advancing triumphantly and the economy developing rapidly, these ordinary people are miserable. Because now is a time to get rich, they dream of making as much money as possible, in order to change their fate, which has seemed for a long time impossible.

These people are not content with what they’ve had, and are afraid of what miseries might come; they are just struggling. They play mahjong, gamble on the lottery, and fight about whether or not to have abortions. (Remember? This is a nation where people have as many babies as possible all the time). In my opinion, they are making their last ditch effort, but because they have no opportunities, it’s all in vain—their hopes are dashed. Then, most of them will live the rest of their life mechanically, like a walking corpse. This documentary film records and describes their struggle before their hopes are dashed.


Director biography

Wen Hai studied at the Beijing Film Academy and has since 2001 been active as an independent film director. Among his best known films are Floating Dust (2004), which won the Prix Georges Beauregard at the 16th Festival International du Documentaire in Marseille in 2005; Dream Walking (2006), awarded the Grand Prize at the 2006 Cinéma du Réel; and the film We, which won the Horizons Special Mention award at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival. Wen Hai also worked as a camera man on WangBing's film Three Sisters (2012). His 2016 book The Gaze of Exile: Witnessing Chinese Independent Documentary Films (放逐的凝视——见证中国独立纪录片)is published in Taipei by Tendency.


  • 2005 the Prix Georges Beauregard, Festival International du Documentaire (Marseilles)