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Anywhere the Wind Blows

Stylised and punchy short film packs a great deal into a compact runtime, equating sex with violence - from the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase in Cannes

Activist Alex lives in the US, having left Hong Kong and all of its trappings behind him. Suddenly his ex Brandon appears at a restaurant, spinning tales of love and loss. In his efforts to seduce Alex, Brandon unleashes something in his erstwhile partner that explodes into a series of hallucinogenic montages, piecing together the remnants of his frightened, fragmented mind.

Packing a great deal into a 17-minute runtime, director Jay Liu has concocted a love story built on uncertainty and fear. In some ways, it calls to mind another queer 2024 drama, Viet and Nam (Truong Minh Quý), which premiered in Cannes just two weeks ago. Both movies deal with ghosts parading in the ever present romance. The spectres enter the surface during one blinding montage involving fast-cuts, glossy colours, faders and stylised music.

As a consequence, viewers are transported from metropolitan US to a street where thugs and police engage in hand-to-hand combat; batons flailing against the skyline. Brutality cuts through the air, shifting the focus from the romantic to the rough, like an opera pivoting from a tidy section to a more hurried texture. Anywhere the Wind Blows defies genre-pigeonholing, culminating in a work that’s grander on feeling than form.

Considering the thematic core, it makes sense that Liu focuses most of the attention on the couple (played with great restraint by Glen Wong and Ray Kam). Lost in their hesitant glances, Alex and Brandon boast a believable chemistry; their eyes betray a history that goes beyond the surface. Striking in their poses, the two men muster the courage to ask each other questions which would indicate their standing in their relationship: Are there other lovers, influences or cultures they should be concerned about? It’s easy to discern a certain hesitancy from the pair. Jokes are made about dating “fugitives”, but the film opens up with a convoy of prisoners screaming “Alex” into the horizon; their shackles barely containing them on the wall.

Anywhere the Wind Blows boasts an interesting palette: luminous yellows are placed in the foreground, tints of black decorate the backdrop. The uneasy array of textures adds to the freneticism, allowing viewers to empathise with the urgency in question. Love makes way to memory, and rumination shifts to something more introspective and implosive. Liu’s images reflect the character’s fears, feelings and aspirations. Love takes tremendous courage to realise its potential, and no matter the side effects, it stands from something pure. Anywhere the Wind Blows is a strong short.

Anywhere the Wind Blows was selected to the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival.

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