Award of Merit – “Returning to Earth” (USA)

Title: Returning to Earth
Runtime: 23 min
Country: USA
Director: Tim Hunter
Placement: Award of Merit
Competition: March, 2024

Synopsis: Seeking comfort in the face of tragedy, a grieving father meets his estranged daughter in the Montana wilderness, where she challenges him to confront a life of questionable choices.

The film follows a father Rob who, while seeking out his daughter Zo, is carrying an urn with the ashes of his dead son Bobby, who killed himself. His mission is to scatter the ashes at Bobby’s favorite spot in the river. Their reunion has an uneasy start – they are guarded and defensive. Their move from her cabin to the river with the ashes leads to confrontation – cathartic and emotional. How will they – or indeed will they ever be able to put the hurt of the past behind them, come to terms, even find love? The questions are near-universal; the outcome as often in life uncertain, and we hope audiences will enjoy and perhaps be moved by the experience.