YUMEN combines ghost stories and “ruin porn” to form a celluloid psycho-collage of wandering souls seeking connection with one another and a lost collective history among the frozen remnants of the abandoned oil town of Yumen in China’s northwest Gansu province.


Set in the quasi-ghost town of Yumen that once thrived with oil production in China's arid northwest, YUMEN is a haunting, fragmented tale of hungry souls, restless youth, a wandering artist and a lonely woman, all searching for human connection and a collective past among the town's crumbling landscape. One part "ruin porn", one part ghost story, and shot entirely on 16mm, the film brings together narrative gesture, performance art, and socialist realism into a crude and radiant collage that not only plays with convention and defies genre, but also pays homage to a disappearing life-world and a fading medium.


Directed and Written by: Xu Ruotao, J.P. Sniadecki, Huang Xiang
Featuring: Chen Qi, Zhou Qian, Chen Xuehua, Huang Xiang, Xu Ruotao
Cinematography: J.P. Sniadecki, Huang Xiang
Sound: J.P. Sniadecki, Huang Xiang
Editing: J.P. Sniadecki, Xu Ruotao, Huang Xiang
Narration Script: Xu Ruotao, Yinyan
Voice-Over Narration: Xu Ruotao, Chen Qi, Zhou Qian, Chen Xuehua
Post-production sound mix: Ernst Karel
Producers: Xu Shan, Xu Ruotao, J.P. Sniadecki

Produced in association with the Film Study Center at Harvard University.