To what extent is our sense of home fixed? Is it something we can construct for ourselves, even when we are estranged from those we love? Is home a physical location, or is it something we carry within us? These are all questions that One Day Summer Collapses Into Autumn, featured in the Fringe of Colour’s week 2 lineup, seeks to answer in a 12-minute runtime. It’s an ambitious premise, but one to which justice is absolutely done.
We are introduced to Lee (Earl Wan), a recently-hired lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, as he wakes up in his new apartment – tidy and clean, verging on sterile, with empty cupboards and clear sideboards. He passes through a series of environments in a state of isolation; whether walking to work alone, or sitting in his cramped, bare office, we get the impression that he is never truly comfortable in his surroundings. Even scenes which are well-known to those who live in Edinburgh – namely, Arthur’s seat and that all-too-pervasive fog – take on a different nature when we see them through Lee’s eyes, presenting our hometown through a fresh, but unfamiliar, lens.
The film explores the toll that relocating has taken, and continues to take, on Lee – most notably is the difficulty he has communicating with his young daughter who is still in China, whose days are mismatched with his due to time zones: his soon-to-be ex-wife asks ‘why don’t you phone later?’, forgetting that their hectic school mornings are Lee’s melancholic nights.
However, throughout the short film we also see Lee begin to build stability around himself. He connects with an informatics student, and finally gets to talk to his daughter over the phone. He has a proper conversation with his wife, who seems genuinely happy that he’s settling in. One Day Summer Collapses Into Autumn encourages us to think of home not as a location in stasis, but instead a process – one which Lee has successfully started when we leave him in his apartment at the end of the film, though the completion date cannot be predicted.
With a very short runtime, One Day Summer Collapses Into Autumn explores a wide number of interconnected themes – loss, gain, the cultivation of a home away from home – in a moving manner, through the perspective of a man who is in a state of upheaval and, ultimately, adjustment. It prompts the audience to formulate their own answers to the question posed by director Jinling Wu: what drives people to leave their homeland? What would drive us?