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The Return of the Body

Li Ning

Release year: 2014

Run time: 82 mins

Film type: Experimental Film


The production originated from a live performance by the The Physical Guerrillas in a farm ruin in Laoshan Mountain, Qingdao. This was Homestead Project—a testing ground for a new way of life for a couple who have abandoned city life and come to the countryside to farm and feed themselves. All of these greatly conform to Li Ning's concept of body training and performance: using the body working on the field to express and represent.
In this familiar courtyard, Li Ning performs while returning to his childhood, and carries on a dialogue and search with his ancestors and the old country.
In this era of dead ends, all resistance has become meaningless. The establishment is also once opposed. Is there a new way out?

Old Li saw the lovers. And that is, ultimately, a lifestyle to break the slavery of machines. It's grounded, regressive, and not liberating, which is a transformation within the body. "No need for sea or ship/only need feet to set foot on my land again/ build lost home/this body's way home/already on its way”.


Director biography

Li Ning, born in 1972, is a theatre and film director, a physical education researcher and practitioner, and a curator.
He graduated from the Fine Arts Education Department of Shandong Art Academy, specializing in sculpture. In 1997, he founded The Physical Guerrillas, a group engaged in the creation of physical theatre and live performance art, performed at home and abroad.
As an artist, he has created a large number of theatre and film works, many of which have become classics of contemporary Chinese physical theatre and video art, and he is also recognized as a representative of these two fields.
He was invited to perform, or to exhibit, exchange and to create, at the Julidans Art Festival in Amsterdam and the Culturescapes Festival in Switzerland. Since 2010, he has also been invited to participate in the creation of the French Limitrophe Company, a situational drama group, which has toured the Festival d’Aurillac, the Ghent Art Festival in Belgium, the Stoke Art Festival in the UK, and the Wuzhen Theatre Festival, among others.
As an experimental film director, his famous works Tape and Untitled-3 have been collected by dozens of university libraries, art galleries, and museums in the United States. Li Ning has received funding from various national foundations many times to complete his theatre and film works, such as the Dutch Done Foundation (which supported Li Ning and The Physical Guerrillas for 3 years, in 2006, 2007, 2008), and the EU cultural project Chin-A-Moves, as well as the China Independent Film Fund Indie Cinema Fund and so on.
As a curator, he presided over and participated in the operation of the Jinan Fangyu Art Festival, the Weifang Village Theatre Festival, the International Factory Theatre Festival Laiwu, and other platforms to improve China's ecology of art and literary.