The Return

Director: Green Zeng / Singapore / 2015 / 83 mins / Mandarin-English-Malay


Synopsis Wen, a political detainee, is released after many years of imprisonment. Arrested for being an alleged communist, he returns, an old man, to an uneasy reunion with his children. Has his sacrifice come at too great a price? Wen wanders through the city to see how his homeland has transformed into a shining metropolis. He is ready to move on but unforeseen circumstances force his journey to take a tragic turn.


thereturn3Direction Green Zeng
Production June Chua Screenplay Green Zeng And June Chua
Cinematography Wong Meng Fye
Sound Takuya Katsu
Music Richard Cooper
Cast Chen Tian Xiang, Vincent Tee, Tan Bengchiak, Gary Tang, Evelyn Wang, Wong Kai Tow, Isaiah Lee, Eugene Tan, Shan Rievan, Eve Tan





thereturn_dirDirector’s Biography Green Zeng is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in both film and visual arts. His current art practice explores issues related to historiography and identity. He has directed many short films such as Blackboard Whiteshoes,  which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 2006, and Passenger, which in the same year was awarded the Encouragement Prize at the Akira Kurosawa Memorial Short Film Competition in Tokyo. He is currently the Creative Director of Mirtillo Films. The Return is his first feature film and it premiered at the 30th Venice International Film Critics’ Week in 2015.

Director’s Statement My current art practice examines historiography and I am interested in the untold parts of history that have been passed over or forgotten. In 2008, I made a short film about a fictitious political detainee who returns to the island where he was exiled. My visual art exhibitions have also dealt with similar topics. In a way, all these artistic explorations have culminated in this feature film. I have always been curious about the lives of ex-political detainees after their release and how they and their families have coped through the years. Thus I set about constructing a story inspired by these people. I imagined scenarios that might have existed, or maybe not at all, and spun my own poignant tale. For the visual treatment, I wanted to create something naturalistic yet dream-like. To reflect the protagonist grappling with the past and present, I tried to collapse the idea of time as linear. As a result, there are several surrealistic scenes where time stands still, or where the past and present co-exist in the same shot. To echo how time has stretched for the protagonist over the years, I used mainly long sequence shots, resulting in a slow and reflective rhythm. I hope the direction of this film reflects the protagonist’s journey of sacrifice and his need to reconnect with his family and the world around him. It is a story filled with contrasts – between fragility and strength,turmoil and peace,loss and beliefs,mortality and life.


  • In competition, 30th Venice International Film Critics’ Week, 2015 (World premiere)
  • In competition, 2nd Cairo International Film Critics Week, 2015.
  • Selected, Singapore Panorama, 26th Singapore international Film Festival,2015.
  • Selected, 4th Hanoi International Film Festival, 2016
  • Selected, 7th Luang Prabang Film Festival,2016