Alyx Duncan’s The Red House is a lovely example of how ideas that evolve, adjust, transform over time can produce work that is just as coherent and complete as if it arrived fully formed. Originally conceived several years ago as a documentary about her ageing parents who were thinking about leaving the house she grew up in and starting again overseas, her film is now a poetic and impressionistic – as well as fictional – meditation on place and belonging.
In the finished film – unlike real life – Lee (Lee Stuart) follows Jia (Meng Jia Stuart), his wife of 20 years, to Beijing where she has travelled to care for her own frail parents. He packs up the few belongings he is able to take with him from the years of assembled mementos, books and treasures, burning much of what is left over. Voiceover from both characters lets the audience know how difficult this transition is, as well as telling the backstory of an unlikely – and lovely – relationship.