On 16th June, Odyssey 2023 – Global Sustainability will bring an eye-catching short, Ashes, to the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. It is the UK premiere of Ashes, accompanied by a 1960 Classic, The World of Suzie Wong. Get The Ticket From Here.

To further explore the details of Ashes and the stories behind the scene, we had an exclusive interview with the writer/director Daniel J. Egbert and the writer/cinematographer/executive producer Siwei Li.

Ashes tells a story when a young Natzi soldier finally made up his mind to execute a captive about his age, whose noble reactions make him struggle again. Surprisingly, it is a black-and-white, non-dialogue short made of 35mm film. It is almost a gamble that the film uses an extremely minimalised way to present such complicated fiction. They commented honestly that it was mainly due to the resources and the time they had. They had to finish shooting all the materials within two days.

I won’t call their success while letting the audiences decide. But from the filmmakers’ point of view, they win. “It was one of the best collaborations”, stressed both Siwei and Daniel. I asked Siwei if he would like to make it coloured when there was enough time, and he said “No” firmly. So, I guess black-and-white would be the best possible way to tell the story.

Daniel had served in the United States Marine Corps Infantry and been deployed to four war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was wounded in combat. I once thought that it must be Daniel’s idea of making a film about the war until I learnt that it was Siwei who came to Daniel in the first place with a story set in war.

In Siwei’s first draft, the story happens between two more mature adults whose values and judgements about right and wrong have already been formed. But when he introduced the very primary inspiration of the story, Cannon Ahese (Chinese Word ‘炮灰’, referring to whom sadly, usually unknowingly, becomes the sacrificer under a situation beyond their control), they then change it to a story that happens between two young people who might still be two innocent school boys if the war didn’t happen.

Interestingly, although the initial idea of the film seems to pay tribute to all the victims of the war, the film itself is more concentrated on the justice of one side, which in this case, the captive’s side. “It is a story about taking the power back”, said Daniel. But what power are we talking about?

In the film, the shifting relationship between the strong and the weak, and the shifting control of the story, has eventually leaned to the young captive from another side, where there is a fully armed, free-to-move Natzi soldier. The captive silently refuses the cigarette given by the executor as the sign before execution, then lightens up his imaginary cigarette more than elegantly, smoking it with all his efforts, and then putting it out as confident as he is in charge of the situation. “A power that although I can’t decide how to live, I can decide how and when I die”, explained Daniel.

We all know that in the end, Natzi lost the war. But which side does the final justice belong to? No one can tell. At the end of the film, the captive and the executor see each other on an equal, horizontal level. Out of their field of vision, millions of lives from both sides vanished like ashes.


Friday, 16 June | 19:30

Picturevielle Cinema
The National Science and Media Museum

 Get The Ticket From Here

The World of Suzie Wong (1960)

18th Golden Globe Award

Best Actress –  Motion Picture Dramas

Strand: Equality
DIRECTOR:Richard Quine
DURATION: 126 min
Genre: Drama, Romance



Strand: Equality
DIRECTOR:Daniel J. Egbert
DURATION: 4min 20s
LANGUAGE: Non-Dialogue
Genre: War, Drama




Cinema is where people connect.

60+ films, masterclasses, discussion panels and exclusive Q&As.

Odyssey is the biggest annual film festival in the UK, bridging curious audience with Greater China and overseas Chinese communities. The theme for 2023 is ‘Global Sustainability’.

Presented by UK-China Film Collab (UCFC)
Festival Date: 26 May – 30 June 2023
Format: Offline in Person and Online via Shift 72
Festival Website: odysseychinesecinema.uk

Instagram & Twitter Handle: @odysseyccs

Hashtags: #globalsustainability #odyssey2023 #ukchinafilm #peace